Once again the flu season is back.
What does that mean for our furry friends?
Can dogs get the flu?
When they hurt, we hurt. No one wants their pets to be sick. But the truth is, your dog can get the flu. And, it has been cleverly named Canine Influenza, go figure.
What is canine influenza (dog flu)?
Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. These are called “canine influenza viruses.” No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two different influenza A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus. Canine influenza A(H3N2) viruses are different from seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses that spread annually in people.
Can canine influenza viruses infect people?
In general, canine influenza viruses are thought to pose a low threat to people. To date, there is no evidence of spread of canine influenza viruses from dogs to people and there has not been a single reported case of human infection with a canine influenza virus in the U.S. or worldwide. In 2016, CDC used the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool (an evaluation tool developed by CDC) to evaluate the potential pandemic risk of canine influenza H3N2 viruses and found it to be low.
Where did canine influenza viruses come from and how long have they been around?
Canine influenza H3N8 viruses originated in horses, spread to dogs, and can now spread between dogs. H3N8 equine influenza (horse flu) viruses have been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported in the United States. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by equine influenza A(H3N8) viruses. Scientists believe this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread among dogs, especially those housed in kennels and shelters. This is now considered a dog-specific, or canine, H3N8 virus. It has now been detected in dogs across much of the United States.
Canine influenza H3N2 viruses originated in birds, spread to dogs, and can now spread between dogs. Transmission of H3N2 canine influenza viruses to cats from infected dogs has been reported also. Canine influenza A H3N2 viruses were first detected in dogs in South Korea in 2007, and also have been reported in dogs in China, Thailand, and Canada. H3N2 canine influenza viruses were first detected in the United States in April 2015, and has now been found in more than 30 states. To date, the H3N2 canine viruses reported in the U.S. have been almost genetically identical to canine H3N2 viruses previously reported only in Asia.
What are signs of canine influenza in dogs?
The signs of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite, but not all dogs will show signs of illness. The severity of illness associated with canine flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death.
Most dogs recover within 2 to 3 weeks. However, some dogs may develop secondary bacterial infections which may lead to more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian.
How serious is canine influenza in dogs?
The percentage of dogs infected with this disease that die is very small. Some dogs have asymptomatic infections (no signs of illness), while some have severe illness with infection. Severe illness is characterized by the onset of pneumonia.
How is canine influenza virus spread?
Almost all dogs are susceptible to canine flu infection, and virus infection tends to spread among dogs housed in kennels and shelters. Canine flu is thought to spread mainly among dogs through respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing from infected dogs, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose their dog to other dogs or to cats. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.
Is there a test for canine influenza?
Testing to confirm H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza virus infection in dogs is available. Your veterinarian can tell you if testing is appropriate.
How is canine influenza in dogs treated?
Treatment largely consists of supportive care which helps to keep the dog hydrated and comfortable while its body then mounts an immune response to the infection to facilitate recovery. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog be more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated. Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.
Is there a vaccine for canine influenza?
Vaccines to protect dogs against both H3N8 and H3N2 canine flu are available in the United States. Your veterinarian can provide additional information about these vaccines and whether you should consider vaccinating your dog.*
How can Snob-Dog Shampoo help?
All of our shampoos are loaded with natural combatants to viral, fungal, and bacterial invaders. Keeping your pets away from other people's pets during this time is one way to stay away from infecting them. If you do need to have your pets interact with other animals, there are two benefits to our shampoo. When they are regularly bathed in our anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial shampoo, it builds up their resistance, and second is to make sure they have a bath after being exposed to possible contaminants. Since our shampoo is gentle, does not change their skin pH, does not rob them of their natural oils, and adds protection against the elements, it is safe to use as often as your need.
*We, personally, do not believe in over-vaccinating ourselves or our pets, but it is up to you to choose the lesser of the two dangers for your furry family members.