Canine influenza, or dog flu, is becoming a threat to dogs throughout the United States. There are two strains of the virus (CIV H3N8 and CIV H3N2) both of which cause a respiratory infection in dogs. These relatively new viruses are suspected of coming from mutations of other forms of influenza, such as those affecting horses and birds. Since these are new viruses, dogs don’t currently have a natural immunity to it. It is thought that the Canine influenza viruses can lead to other respiratory infections like Kennel Cough and the symptoms are often similar. As of May 2017, there are documented cases of Canine influenza in Texas.
This highly contagious virus is passed on through direct contact with infected dogs, as well as through secondary surfaces, clothing and people’s hands. Cats are also susceptible to the virus (symptoms are runny nose, congestion, general discomfort, lip smacking, and extra salivation) and are able to pass it along to dogs. At this time, the viruses are not transmissible to humans.
Canine influenza is not usually fatal (less than 10%) and will usually run its course in about 2-3 weeks. Some dogs don’t display symptoms. Symptoms in mild cases include a gentle wet or dry cough, lethargy, anorexia, low grade fever, eye and or nose discharge (the latter typically responds to antibiotics indicating a secondary infection resulting from the flu). Severe cases often present with a high fever (104-106), and symptoms similar to pneumonia including high respiratory rates.
Since these are new viruses, most dogs are vulnerable, with young and older dogs being at greater risk along with dogs that have a lot of contact with other dogs. Preventive measures include limiting contact with other dogs and staying away from places where flu has been reported. If you are in the habit of petting other dogs, washing your hands before petting your own dog is a good practice to help prevent spreading the virus. Good nutrition and strong healthcare practices help make pets less vulnerable.
Treatment for Canine influenza in most cases is supportive and includes cough/respiratory medications, hydration (and antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected). Rest and isolation for the pet are recommended. For more severe cases, fluid therapy or hospitalization may be required.
Testing is currently available to identify the two strains of the virus (H2N8 and H3N2), and Longview Animal Hospital carries a vaccine to protect against both. If you have any questions, please contact our team at (903) 807-0887.
For more information, visit www.canineinfluenza.com