Dog Flu - The Symptoms - Prevention
CIV - Canine Influenza Virus
We are getting close to the yearly flu season and not only do humans have to worry about getting the flu, so do their canine companions. The canine flu is referred to as the H3N8 virus, it is highly contagious and spreads easily from one dog to the next. However, unlike the human strain, the H3N8 canine virus outbreaks are not contained to a certain time of year and there can be an outbreak at any time yearly.
One thing to keep in mind is the H3N8 virus does not infect humans. So you don't need to worry about any of the human family members coming down with canine influenza. The best means of prevention for your dog is the vaccine and also keep up with any noted outbreaks and keep your pet away from areas that could easily be contaminated.
Although the H3N8 is a relatively new found virus, each year the number of dogs that become infected and ill has grown. The virus can make a dog seriously ill or even cause death. This virus causes an infection of the respiratory system and can present symptoms of a common cold. Because the symptoms are similar to other canine illnesses such as bordetella and kennel cough, the diagnosis isn't easily discernible.
Nearly all dogs exposed to the virus become infected. The illness may also be spread through hand contact. If you touch a dog that has the virus and then touch your own dog or another; odds are the dog will pick up the virus from your hands or clothing.
Any place where numbers of dogs visit such as dog parks, kennels, doggie daycare, vets offices are places that infection of one dog before it is recognized, can infect all the other dogs that come in contact with the virus for days.
- Runny Nose
- Fever (sometimes but not always)
- Labored Breathing
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
If your dog presents any of these symptoms, it is best to seek advice from your veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will be aware of any outbreaks in your area and will know the best advice in treating the illness. Some dogs get mildly ill and get over it with no course of treatment and other dogs can become extremely ill. One word of advice: anytime your pet presents any signs of illness it is necessary to keep the dog hydrated. Just as a human, a dog with vomiting, diarrhea and fever can become dehydrated very quickly. Do not take a chance, call your vet immediately.
Help make every day a play day. Get more information on dog flu and resources to educate yourself by visiting www.doginfluenza.com.
Testing for Canine Flu
Your veterinarian may test for canine flu if your dog becomes ill. The test is performed by using respiratory secretions collected at the time of sickness onset or the taking of two blood samples; the first collected at onset of sickness and the second blood sample two to three weeks later. Also keep in mind that even if your dog is infected, there is only a small chance that the infection will cause very severe illness or death. Most dogs rebound in a week just a humans do. Very young or old dogs as well as dogs with already compromised immune systems will more than likely get much sicker than a grown healthy dog.
Treatment of Canine Influenza
Treatment mostly consists of supportive care just like a human who is sick. Rest, fluids, any medications the vet may perscribe to help keep your dog comfortable. If the vet feels that your dog is very ill with a bacterial infection; antibiotics may be perscribed.
To Vaccinate or Not
Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 is the name of the recently approved vaccine. There seems to be differing opinions on this vaccine by the veternarian industry. Personally, my vets recommend the vaccine to all dog owners. This is to try to eliminate outbreaks of the virus all together. Some vets feel the possible contraindications are too dangerous. This is something you need to do your own research on while also seeking the opinion of your dog's vet.
Canine Influenza outbreaks have been reported in almost every state with the exceptions mapped below. The first case was found in Florida in 2004 and it was a mutation of the equine influenza virus that was first detected in horses approximately 40 years ago. Dogs in large groups such as kennels, shelters and boarding and training facilities should be vaccinated because they are at the highest risk level for exposure. One reason for the very high contagion rate is due to the fact that it is a relatively new strain of virus and dogs have not been able to build up any natural immunities.
There are currently only eight states that have not reported any outbreaks:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
The best source of prevention is just like a human outbreak of flu; wash your hands and clothes before touching your pet if you have been around an exposed dog.
Keep your dogs away from areas where there are many dogs if possible when there has been an outbreak in the area.
Get your pet vaccinated if advised by your veterinarian.
Keep your pet as healthy as possible with good nutrition, good hydration, kept warm and dry and avoid places that have reported outbreaks.