You hear all the time, especially this year, about the importance of the flu shot. We know that getting a flu shot protects us from illness and helps protect the most vulnerable among us through herd immunity. Did you know, though, that dogs can get the flu, too? Especially if your dog regularly interacts with other dogs at places like the groomer, daycare, dog park, vet, or boarding facility, it’s important to protect him from canine influenza.
Canine influenza is a relatively new type of illness. While influenza viruses have been known to exist in horses for over 40 years, the first reported cases of canine influenza occurred in 2004. This virus, H3N8, was an equine influenza strain that jumped from horses to dogs. Another strain of canine influenza, H3N2, originated in birds and was first detected in 2007. Canine influenza is highly contagious to other dogs, and it can pass to cats as well, but no cases have been reported of canine influenza infecting humans. Because flu viruses are always changing, however, scientists are keeping an eye on canine influenza in case of transmission to humans ever occurs.
The symptoms of canine influenza include a cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite. Most dogs recover within two or three weeks, but the severity of the virus varies widely. Some dogs have no signs of illness whatsoever, but in severe cases it can result in pneumonia and, in some cases, death. The primary concern for dogs with influenza is that they can develop secondary bacterial infections that lead to more severe illness. If you think your dog may have influenza, contact your vet. Canine influenza can’t be diagnosed solely on clinical signs, but your vet can run tests to diagnose and identify the strain of the virus affecting your dog.
Treatment of canine influenza is primarily supportive care, keeping the dog hydrated and comfortable. The vet may prescribe medication that will help your dog feel better or may give fluid to keep your dog well-hydrated. If the vet suspects a secondary bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. Before your dog contracts influenza, talk to your vet about whether vaccination is a good idea in your situation. Vaccines are available to protect dogs against both strains of this flu.
At Reed Animal Hospital, we treat your pets as if they were our own. Our goal is to help you and your pet enjoys a healthy, fulfilling life together, and our extraordinary team offers a wide range of services. We’ve got veterinarians, technicians, assistants, and receptionists, all prepared to help you and your pet, and we even offer referrals to specialty surgeons, many of whom will travel to our office to consult with your pet. For more information or to make an appointment, call us in Campbell at 408-369-1788, or in Saratoga at 408-647-2906, or contact us through our website.