As a pet owner, it is important to always be prepared for certain things and one of those things is Dog flu, in most cases, dog flu may not be so serious but it could make your pet really sickly and extremely uncomfortable, therefore they need to spend a lot of time at the vet's office. Canine Influenza Virus is another name for Dog flu, it is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a particular Type A influenza virus that can infect dogs, the Type A influenza flu viruses are of two categories; one is the H3N8 virus while the other is the H3N2 virus, no human infection with a canine type of influenza has been reported yet.
It has been found that influenza viruses are changing regularly, and there is a possibility that a canine virus could change to the extent that, it gets to infect people and spread between humans. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) global surveillance system has led to the detection of human infections by novel influenza A viruses of animal origin, but up to date, there are no human infections with canine influenza A that has been identified. Canine influenza H3N8 virus was found first in horses, it spreads to dogs and it can now spread between dogs, there has also been a reported case of H3N2 canine influenza transmitted from dogs to cats.
How Canine Influenza is spread.
Just like the human forms of Influenza, dog flu is also airborne. Respiratory secretions get escaped into the environment in a manner of barking, sneezing, and coughing, when this happens, it is inhaled by a new canine host. The dog flu then spreads through other contaminated objects and environments, the objects that can get contaminated include; collars, kennel surfaces, water bowls, and even other direct forms of contact with other infected dogs. Dog parks, grooming parlors, and daycare centers are breeding grounds for diseases like canine influenza. The close contact that dogs have in these areas would result in the close proximity of coughing, sneezing, coughing, and infection of one another, the spread of the virus is more possible during the stage of incubation before they start to show symptoms.
The incubation stage of canine influenza is often 2-4 days away from the initial exposure to the dog flu virus, upon the fourth day of the incubation, viral shedding begins to decrease, and dogs with H3N8 remain contagious for up to 10 days after exposure and when dogs are infected with H3N2, it remains contagious for up to 26 days, so it is common for vets to advice dog isolation for about 21 days when they are infected with H3N2, in order to reduce the risk attached with the transmission. Transmission of the virus is highly possible upon contact with an infected dog, but it is not all dogs that show symptoms of the virus upon infection, so if it happens that one of your dogs catches the disease and the other one is not showing any other symptom, you must be careful not to think they do not have the virus already. About 20-25% of dogs infected with this virus are asymptomatic, but they can still spread the disease, this means you may want to speak with your vet about a quarantine procedure for the dogs in your home.
To understand that your dog has the flu, certain symptoms will show up and some of them are;
- Runny eyes.
- Nasal discharge.
- Difficult breathing.
Most dog flu symptoms come off like kennel cough and that is also an infection you need to speak to your vet about. While most of the cases of dog flu are mild, several other tough cases are possible, dogs can develop pneumonia, high fever and even breathing difficulty.
Sadly, there is no cure for dog flu, but there are support systems to help your pet feel alright that your vet can advise, it is your responsibility to keep your pet as comfortable as possible. Some dogs could need some extra supportive care to help aid recovery, and some anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce fever. Your vet may advise you to carry out a proper quarantine procedure to help prevent the spread of dog flu depending on the strain of the virus carried.
The best way to prevent your dog from contracting the flu is to ensure they are kept away from public places or other pets who have had a similar case of infection. Wash your hands constantly especially after touching a dog you are not familiar with before you touch your own dog. Vaccines are recommended based on lifestyle, vaccines are the best way to prevent it from recurring.
Dog flu could be a mild situation for your pet, but things could also get very complicated, so when you notice any of the symptoms listed above with your pet, make sure to speak to a certified vet and be sure to isolate affected dogs from other dogs in the house.