Just like humans, dogs also suffer from flu outbreaks. Although they have a deficient level of fatality, they tend to make the dog uncomfortable and stressful.
Furthermore, you also endure indirect stress, and you end up spending most of your time and cash visiting the vet.
However, if you own a dog, you should not panic or worry about the dog flu since it is a common thing among dogs. Instead, familiarize yourself with typical symptoms and what is expected of you in case of an outbreak.
What is the dog flu?
Dog flu is also known as the canine influenza virus that infects dogs, cats, and horses. The first strain of the virus called the H3N8 was detected in horses, in the United States 40 years ago.
In 2004, greyhounds in Florida were tested positive for the H3N8 virus. After some years, new strains of H3N2 and H1N1 were detected in Asia and China, respectively.
Unlike the H2N8 that originated from horses, doctors believe that H3N2 came from birds and infected dogs in 2015.
A brief history of the dog flu
A decade after the discovery of canine influenza, a new outbreak of the disease affected Chicago, recording more than 1000 new cases. The explosion marked a new development of the virus known as H3N2.
The outbreak was already in South Korea but not widely spread. Scientists claim that the disease originated from birds to dogs, and later in 2016, it started to infect cats as well.
Due to this development, scientists claim that there is a prospect that, the disease can start affecting humans as well. The influenza virus can quickly mutate and can be contagious, just like the avian flu and the swine flu. However, there is still no scientific evidence that the disease can spread to humans.
Furthermore, we are yet to record a case of any person infected with canine influenza. Thus, the idea of the flu being a deadly concern to humans is just but mere speculation.
How the flu spreads?
Canine influenza is an airborne disease just like other human forms of cold. When a dog barks, coughs, or sneezes, it tends to release the respiratory secretion into the environment. Another canine host then inhales the secretions, and the dog becomes infected with the disease.
Besides that, the flu can be spread through contaminated environs and objects, such as kennel surfaces, water bowls, and collars. Furthermore, you can also spread influenza through direct contact with an infected canine host.
The disease is highly infectious during the incubation period, that is before the dog starts showing any signs. For this reason, crowded places such as dog parks, daycare centers, and grooming parlors tend to be breeding grounds for various transmittable diseases such as the dog flu.
The period in which dogs tend to be contagious of the canine influenza
The incubation period from initial contact of canine influenza takes a period of 2-4 days. After the fourth day, the pathological flaking starts to drop.
However, if your dog is suffering from H3N8, it will remain infectious for a period of 10 days after contact. Dogs suffering from H3N2 remain infective for 26 days after exposure to the virus.
Therefore, to counter the transmission of the disease, it is advisable that you isolate your dog for one month to help reduce the transmission rate.
Not all dogs that encounter the virus show the symptoms. If you have two dogs and one is infected but has no signs, there is a high chance that she has the virus. The reason being, all dogs exposed to the disease gets infected with the virus.
The signs and symptoms of canine influenza
It is good to note that dog flu is not a seasonal infectious disease. So, always keep an eye on your dog to know whether he is affected or not. Canine influenza may range from mild to severe cases depending on the immune system of your dog.
Sometimes, it is typically difficult to distinguish between a frequent kennel cough and a canine infectious respiratory disease complex.
Using the symptoms highlighted below you will be able to identify when your dog is suffering from dog flu; thus, you can be able to take immediate action like, visiting the doctor and isolating your dog.
- Loss of appetite
- Eye and nasal discharge
- Unending cough both dry and moist
- Having trouble while breathing
Canine influenza has a shallow fatality rate of about 8%. However, if left uncured, the disease can lead to dangerous respiratory problems such as pneumonia.
Aged dogs and puppies are the most vulnerable dogs that can easily get severely ill once they contaminate the disease. Therefore, always be extra careful when dealing with such dogs.
Pekinese and French bulldogs have a very delicate respiratory tract; hence, when they catch the flu, they tend to undergo an arduous process.
There is no cure for canine influenza, but you must seek veterinarian assistance when you suspect that your dog is sick. Seeking vets assistance will help reduce the spread of the disease as well as give you directives on what to do.
They will also come up with a nutritional plan and prescribed antibiotics to speed up the recovery process. For your dog to recover, you must offer supportive treatment and care.
Other dogs will require prescribed fluids and anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by the vet.
The vet will also offer you the necessary information needed about isolating your dog, to help limit the spread of the flu. Besides that, he will also give you directives on how to disinfect your household and kill the virus.
How to protect your dog
Prevention is better than cure. If you live in an area that has recorded previous cases of canine influenza, ensure that you administer the H3N8 and H3N2 vaccines to prevent future risk from occurring.
Also, you can protect your dog by reducing the dog’s movement in public places and dens. Also, remember to wash your hands and change your clothing before contacting your dog.