Canine Flu, Dog’s Can Get The Sniffles Too

By Dr. Tracy Appelbaum, Managing Veterinarian

Just like their two-legged owners, dogs can come down with a serious case of the sniffles. And just like in people, canine flu is highly contagious — infecting about 80% of all dogs who come into contact with it, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Canine flu is a contagious virus that has been shown to cause respiratory disease in dogs. In 2004, canine flu (CIV H3N8) was first detected in racing greyhounds after a strain of the virus mutated from horses. This virus quickly spread and has been confirmed in 41 states. In 2015, a similar virus of avian origin (CIV H3N2), was identified in Chicago and has since spread to 30 states. Since our pets have no natural immunity to this similar virus, vaccination is recommended, especially for those dogs who have contact with other dogs. There is currently no evidence to support that this transfers to humans.

What are the symptoms of canine flu:

  • Persistent cough

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Eye Discharge

  • Fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of energy

How do dogs get canine flu:

  • Through direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions (barking, coughing, sneezing).

  • Through contact with an environment that has been contaminated with the virus (kennel surfaces, bowls, toys, beds, etc.).

  • Through contact with people who have been in contact with an infected animal. The virus remains on clothing and hands for up to 24 hours before dying, although, it is easily killed with handwashing and laundering with soap and water.

What dogs are at risk for getting canine flu:

  • Any age, breed, or health status can be infected.
  • More likely in pets with a social lifestyle – dog parks, daycare, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, dog shows, etc.

What should I do if my dog appears to have symptoms of canine flu:

  • Since there are many causes of the clinical signs listed above, it is important to contact Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital right away. While mortality is low with this disease, a very small number of dogs can get a more severe form of the disease that can progress to pneumonia.

  • It is recommended to call PRIOR TO entering the clinic. This will decrease spreading of the disease, especially if your pet recently has been in a social setting with other dogs.

  • Your Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital veterinarian can do a simple test to determine if your pet is infected. Special diagnostic tests can be performed within the first 3 days of infection. Blood tests are also available.

  • Treatment usually involves supportive care at home or in the hospital depending on the severity, and most pets will recover fully within 2-3 weeks. Pets are considered infectious for up to 4 weeks.

What can I do to protect my pet from getting canine flu:

  • We will be offering a vaccine which offers protection from both the H3N8 and H3N2 viruses. It is given as an injection under the skin and it is followed by a booster 2-4 weeks later. It is safe to use in dogs as young as 7 weeks of age.

  • Be sure to keep up to date with boosters annually.

  • Remain aware of cases identified in our area. Rocky Gorge regularly posts current and important news on our Facebook page.

Feel free to call Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital or schedule your vaccine appointment today and be on the lookout for information regarding our flu clinics.

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