When we think about the flu, we typically think of the virus affects humans. However, our four-legged friends can become ill with the canine version of the flu. This year, the instances of canine flu are on the rise. Several states, including Colorado, Arkansas, and Washington, are reporting that a significant increase in the number of flu cases they are seeing. Canine flu is very contagious. About 80% of dogs who come into contact with it will acquire it. While this virus is contagious, it rarely results in dog deaths and does not spread to people.
Stephanie Duarte, a veterinary technician at Easy Bay Pet Clinic, located in Oakland, California, strongly advises that dog owners monitor their pets for symptoms. The symptoms of canine flu are similar to those that affect humans. They include nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing. If you notice your dog having any of these symptoms, its best to keep them quarantined from any other dogs. Outbreaks of canine flu are typically seen in situations where dogs are kept in close quarters.
What Causes Dog Flu?
Canine flu has two strains. H3N2 is the most common of the strains has been in the US for several races. H3N8 is the most severe of the strains. The H3N8 strain is rare and started circulating in the US in 2004. In the past month, at least 4 dogs in California were found to have the H3N2 strain. The number of dogs with the H3N2 virus may be higher. Unfortunately, most dog owners don’t authorize the blood test that is necessary to determine the strain due to the test’s cost.
Signs of Canine Flu
The majority of dogs with canine flu will have symptoms that are similar to kennel cough. A small number of dogs will develop a severe form of the illness. Dog influenza symptoms include:
- Rapid or difficult breathing
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of appetite
How Do You Help Your Dog?
If you think your dog is ill, keep her hydrated and let her get lots of rest. Track how long the canine flu symptoms persist. Dogs that show symptoms several days or a week after they begin you may want to contact your vet. If your dog is not ill, you may want to consider preemptive action like getting him vaccinated.
Once the flu symptoms are no longer present, you may want to keep your dog separated from other ones for a couple of weeks. Your dog may still be contagious even if there are no symptoms.