Dog Flu Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention
What Is Canine Influenza Virus?
Also known as canine flu or dog flu, canine influenza virus is a highly contagious airborne disease that is easily spread among dogs. This infectious respiratory disease is caused by an influenza A virus. There are two influenza strains that commonly affect dogs in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2.
The H3N8 strain has been diagnosed in horses for years. In 2004, the virus jumped from horses to dogs and mutated into a canine influenza virus.
In March 2015, a new viral strain was identified in the United States—the H3N2 virus. This strain originated in Asia, where it’s believed that it jumped from birds to dogs. The H3N2 strain is responsible for the 2015 and 2016 outbreaks in the United States.
How Does It Spread?
Canine influenza spreads easily through respiratory secretions that escape into the environment when dogs cough, sneeze, or bark. The virus is spread when dogs are in close proximity of an infected dog, as it can travel up to 20 feet. Because of this, the virus is easily spread at boarding and grooming facilities, dog parks, and dog shows.
The virus can also spread through contaminated objects, such as crates, clothing, bowls, etc. According to VCA Hospitals, the virus can survive on skin and hands for 12 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on surfaces for 48 hours.
Because canine influenza is a relatively new virus, most dogs have not built up a natural immunity to it. Therefore, a majority of dogs are susceptive to the infection when they are exposed. Approximately 80 percent of dogs will show symptoms, while almost 20 percent will not show symptoms but will still shed the virus and spread the infection.
Dog Flu Symptoms
Canine influenza causes similar symptoms of other respiratory infections in dogs. Canine flu symptoms include a dry, hacking cough that is similar to kennel cough, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and discharge from the nose or eyes.
Some dogs may contract the virus but not show any symptoms; however, they will still shed the disease. A majority of dogs will show clinical signs within 2 to 4 days and then shed the virus for up to 20 days after exposure.
Preventing Dog Flu
The best step you can take for dog flu prevention is vaccination. Because it isn’t possible to know where the virus will show up next, vaccination should be considered for all dogs. The dog flu vaccine requires two doses, so dogs can’t be successfully vaccinated in the middle of an outbreak. In order to prevent the virus, dogs should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
As always, it’s a good idea to disinfect and keep everything sanitized. Remember that stainless steel food and water bowls are easier to keep sanitized because plastic can be hard to fully disinfect if it becomes scratched.
When handling dogs, make sure to wash your hands frequently. To stop the virus from spreading, be sure to isolate sick animals for up to 30 days after they’ve started showing symptoms.
New Dog Flu Vaccine
There is a new canine influenza vaccine called Nobivac® Canine Flu Bivalent vaccine. This vaccine aids in the control of disease associated with both Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) H3N2 and CIV H3N8. It can be given to puppies at 7 weeks of age with 2 doses administered 2 to 4 weeks apart. The annual revaccination is 1 dose.
The Importance of Hydration
Dogs often have a decreased appetite when they are sick, so ensuring they stay hydrated is crucial for helping them recover quickly. HydrADE from Thomas Pet is an electrolyte replacement supplement that helps support normal hydration and encourages water consumption in dogs under stress, during sickness, and during times of fluid loss.
HydrADE provides energy sources, Amino Acids, Dextrose, and Electrolytes to support hydration levels and help pets get back on their feet quicker.
A respiratory support supplement may also support recovery by helping maintain optimal respiratory function and immune support!
Dog Flu Treatment
If you think that one of your dogs has the virus, it’s best to immediately isolate him from other animals and talk to your veterinarian. Treatment for dog flu is supportive and may require fluids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce fevers. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, if necessary, for secondary bacterial infections.
If left untreated, the virus may lead to pneumonia or other health problems. With proper treatment, most dogs will recover within 2 to 3 weeks.
The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.