Canine influenza, or in simple words, dog flu is a respiratory and highly contagious disease found in dogs. This new disease was first seen in the United States in 2004. The virus caused the death of Greyhound dogs at the race track in New Jersey and since then it has become infamous in the canine world. The responsible virus behind canine influenza is H3N8. However, another strain of the virus, H3N2 emerged afterward. Both the virus can make canines sick badly and cause the deaths if not provided with proper medical attention.
Even though canine influenza makes frequent appearances in news, fortunately, the virus is not that widespread and does not affect each and every dog and kill. Most importantly, it can be prevented by the precautions. If you’re traveling to another state or country, you will have to look at how prevalent the canine flu is in that place. Moreover, it is crucial to know how the disease spreads, where your dog is prone to get infected, and how to keep your dog safe from the virus.
How Canine Influenza Spreads
Just like mammalian influenza spreads among humans through a respiratory medium, dog flu spreads by the droplets that contain nasal secretion when a dog sniffs, barks, licks, or shares their things with other dogs. It also spreads if you caress your pooch after touching an influenza-infected doggie.
That said, dog flu can spread through water and food bowls, collars, harnesses, or clothes of infected canines, public dog water drinking, kennels, shelters, pet boarding, walking, and sitting services where many dogs gather and likely to contract influenza virus.
Canine flu virus can live up to 48 hours on any surface, 24 hours on clothing, and 12 hours on hands. Only 80% of infected pooches show symptoms of the disease while the rest still can spread the virus so you can never say the dog is infected or not by his general well-being. Laboratory tests are the only way to diagnose the disease. Moreover, dogs are most contagious during the virus incubation period which is 2-8 days and still, there will be no symptoms at all in the infected dog and might be shedding the virus everywhere he goes.
What Are the Signs You Should Care For
When it’s time for your most awaited holidays you never want to think your pooch has already contracted the virus and you will be immersed in taking care of your sick doggie and taking him to vet in a foreign place.
So before you fly, if your dog is showing symptoms similar to a kennel cough it warrants a vet visit. Dog flu has similar symptoms that a kennel cough would induce- soft, dry cough or a moist cough. Moreover, these symptoms won’t disappear till 10 to 21 days despite being on cough suppressants and other antibiotics. There are few other symptoms which may accompany a dog such as sneezing, nasal and/or oculus discharge. Mostly, nasal discharge happens due to secondary bacterial infection.
The severe cases are those when canines start exhibiting the clinical signs of pneumonia. A high-grade fever (104°F to 106°F) and increased respiratory rate are the symptoms you will see. Although most canines recover without incidents, there are cases of deaths reported due to H3N2.
If even a single sign appears in your pooch, you should pay a visit to the vet office. Your vet might instruct you to keep him in your car as he can shed influenza virus to other dogs in the office if at all he is infected. Moreover, there’s no season of canine influenza, it can produce acute infections at any time of the year.
A Little Bit about Preventive Measures
Before you take off, don’t miss to read these preventive measures to keep your pooch safe from canine influenza. We have discussed earlier that your dog is prone to the virus where dogs congregate. Go to your vet and ask him about how prevalent the disease is in the place you’re visiting.
Make sure you are using a soundproof crate for your dog if you are traveling by airway. This will help your dog to relax and calm while jet engines rev.
It might be inconvenient to take all of your dog’s things, for example, his/her favorite plush dog bed, leash, harness, toys, and each and everything he uses at home but you will thank yourself for bringing his own things, especially, food bowls and water bowls. In a nutshell, don’t let your pooch use other doggies’ things and share his own things with them. Your pooch is likely to catch flu at places like dog parks, beaches, and every place where dogs gather in large number. So try to avoid visiting those places with your dog. If your pooch is not going to accompany you then give your pet sitter strict instructions about the preventive measures. Bookmark Pet Jets and visit us again for pet health articles related to flying.