During the wintertime, many people are concerned about getting the flu, so they go and get a flu shot. But, did you know that your precious pup can get the flu as well? Canine influenza is a highly-contagious infection that is caused by the influenza A virus. The good news is that if your dog has the flu, it can’t be transferred to you or your human family.
The canine flu is very contagious and easily spread. Just one infected dog can bring it into an area and cause a series of mini-outbreaks, particularly in stressed populations such as shelter dogs. It is spread in much the same way as human influenza is. An infected dog sneezes or coughs and then the virus aerosols. Dogs that are closely confined or in close proximity are the highest at risk.
It only takes a few days for your dog to get the flu after being in proximity to it. Common places where this can happen include kennels, hospitals, dog parks and grooming salons. It only takes a few days for your dog to get the flu after being exposed.
When a dog has the canine flu, he or she will show signs of a respiratory infection. These symptoms may include coughing, red eyes and nasal discharge. However, some dogs become more ill and experience worse symptoms such as a high fever and trouble breathing. Some dogs can develop a fever between 103 and 107 degrees.
Having the canine flu can actually become very serious, according to Pet MD. The reason is that the virus causes permanent lung damage, and a high rate of secondary bacterial pneumonia. Even if the dog doesn’t develop pneumonia, permanent damage to the lungs is still a reality.
Basically, any time and place where dogs are congregating with one another, their risk of exposure increases. One of the best ways to prevent your dog from getting the flu is to keep an ear to the ground for news of a local outbreak. Should you hear about one, you would just need to try and isolate your dog from having casual contact with unknown dogs until the outbreak is controlled. When it is a “new” virus, experts warn that almost every dog that comes into contact with it are at risk of coming into contracting it.
The Flu Shot
There is a vaccine available against the canine influenza. The vaccine is taken in two doses, two weeks apart. Talk with your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog against canine influenza if:
- Your dog is at risk by being in contact with other dogs
- Your area is currently high-risk
- You are boarding your dog or utilizing a doggie daycare facility
Stopping the Spread
Should your dog display any signs of the flu, you should consider the following: Keep him or her home and safely contained, and avoid activities where other dogs can be exposed, for about 2 weeks. Keep your dog’s food and water bowls, and toys clean with soap and water, to prevent spreading the virus. Disinfect your hands with soap and water or sanitizer before touching other dogs who haven’t been infected with the canine flu. Having knowledge and common sense are your best defenses against protecting your dogs against canine influenza.