‘Tis the season for colds, stomach bugs and the dreaded influenza. Annually, many Americans make it a priority to go out and get their flu shot. If you fall into this category, have you ever considered getting a flu shot for your dog? Can your canine companion even get the flu?
You may be surprised to learn that he can, but don’t worry. It’s typically not fatal or life threatening. However, it can be beneficial to know the symptoms and know what to look for so you can receive prompt treatment if needed.
What Is The Dog Flu?
There are two known strands of canine influenza: H3N8 and H3N2. Both of these are believed to have started in other animal species that subsequently jumped to infect dogs. In fact, horses are responsible for spreading the H3N8 strand to dogs in Florida, and H3N2 was transferred to our four-legged friends through birds in Asia.
Like the human flu, canine influenza is highly contagious. However, there are generally far fewer deaths or serious complications when our pooches fall ill with the flu.
How Does Canine Influenza Spread?
Canine influenza spreads quite similarly to how the flu spreads among humans – through the air or direct contact. Any infected dog that coughs, barks or sneezes near another dog is likely to spread his illness if inhaled by surrounding pups.
Direct contact with an infected object or a person who has been around an infected dog can also transfer the flu to another pooch.
If you know of an outbreak in your area, it is best to stay away from crowded canine locations such as kennels, shelters, dog parks, dog stores or dog groomers where our four-legged friends are in close proximity to one another.
Symptoms of the Dog Flu
If you know your dog has been in contact with an infected canine, it is important to monitor his behavior for any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Nasal Discharge
Typically, these symptoms persist anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. At worst, if a preexisting condition or secondary bacterial infection is present, a dog can develop pneumonia, which requires immediate medical attention. Signs of pneumonia may include a high fever, nasal discharge and labored or shallow breathing.
Treatment for the Dog Flu
While most cases of the flu prove not to be life threatening, your veterinarian may recommend keeping your pooch on a strictly nutritious diet with lots of rest.
If, however, your dog has a pre-existing condition or other health complication, further action may be taken, including an antibiotic if a bacterial infection is present, an anti-inflammatory to help reduce fever and inflammation, and plenty of water to replenish lost fluids if puppy has become dehydrated.
Preventing the Dog Flu
As the saying goes, the best form of treatment is prevention. If your pooch has the flu, make sure to isolate him from other canine companions so he doesn’t spread his holiday cheer around to the neighbors. Similarly, if a dog on your block has the flu, keep your dog away so he doesn’t have a chance of catching the highly contagious illness.
Vaccinations are available to help protect your pup from the flu as well. Typically, they are lifestyle vaccines, and your veterinarian may recommend them if your pooch is around other dogs at a kennel, busy dog park, etc. Talk to your veterinarian to see whether this might be an option for your furry friend.
Thanks for stopping by! We’re glad to see you. We hope you learned new ways in which you can protect your pup from the dog flu this winter. If you enjoyed our article, please feel free to share it with friends, family and on social media sites.