Flu season is just around the corner, and humans aren’t the only ones affected. As the cold days of winter set in, reports of canine flu happen more frequently. When your furry friends start showing flu-like symptoms, it’s important to get them the help they need. The first steps to taking care of your dog is through understanding the symptoms and knowing what to do should you suspect your pup is feeling under the weather.
What is the canine flu?
The canine flu is also commonly referred to as the dog flu. The CDC defines it as a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It is caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. There are two specific Type A canine influenza viruses in the United States, H3N2 and H3N8. It’s important to know that there is no evidence of the spread of canine influenza viruses from dogs to humans. Although people can’t catch this virus, it’s common in dogs, especially as the weather turns colder and can be dangerous.
How is the virus spread?
Unfortunately, the canine flu is extremely contagious and can be spread from one dog to another quite easily. Similar to how viruses spread among people, the canine flu is airborne. That means if dogs come in contact with another dog that has the flu or an infected object, they can easily catch it. During colder months it’s best to be mindful of areas where you will find many dogs like pet stores, dog parks, groomers, etc.
Objects are also important to keep an eye on because the virus can live up to 48-hours on a surface. Some examples of contaminated objects include crates, collars/ leashes, and water dishes. If you think you may have come in contact with a sick dog, make sure to wash your hands and anything it may have touched before handling your dog.
What are the symptoms?
The canine flu has many of the same symptoms we as humans notice when we become sick. Some of the most common symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny eyes/ nose, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy. They can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and range in level of severity. Because it varies from dog to dog, it’s important you monitor how your pup is feeling consistently.
How can you treat canine flu?
Treatment of the canine flu varies from case to case, but the basic principles are the same. As soon as you notice any symptoms of the flu, we recommend you consult your veterinarian. They can test your pup for the virus and give you specific instructions on how to care for your dog. Making sure your dog is drinking plenty of water and is resting often can help keep them comfortable while recovering. Something to keep in mind when going to the vet, is you should call them before entering the building. This will help reduce the risk of other pets catching the virus and keep your pup safe.
Is there a vaccine available?
There are vaccines available for both H3N8 and H3N2 as well as one that combines the two. The AVMA states that these are “lifestyle” vaccines and the decision is solely based on a dog’s risk of exposure. If you’re considering vaccinating your pup, make sure to consult with your veterinarian to determine if your dog needs it.
Understanding the symptoms and causes of canine flu is a great way to help protect your pet, especially as colder months approach. Keep an eye on your furry friend and avoid spending a ton of time in areas with many dogs during the peak of flu season. If you notice any flu-like symptoms in your dog, it’s important to give your veterinarian a call right away. To set up an appointment with us at the Bregman Veterinary Group, reach out to us today!