Flu season is not just affecting humans, dogs are now experiencing a rise in cases of canine influenza.
There have been reports nationwide of a surge in cases this winter that are highly contagious. Experts are urging pet owners to vaccinate their dogs and practice avoidance.
The CDC states that Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses. Currently there are two different influenza A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus.
“The signs are very similar to a lot of other respiratory diseases in dogs; fever, lethargy flu-like symptoms like in humans Most of these dogs have a pretty severe cough, there’s some dogs that are infected that never really have any clinical signs.”
Testing has evolved rapidly in the past decade and doctors can readily find out what strain a dog is carrying.
“They probably should see their veterinarian, There’s some tests we can do to differentiate because there’s so many other diseases that can cause these symptoms and typically in 24 to 48 hours we can have results back that can tell us if it’s canine influenza or is it one of the other diseases that can cause an upper respiratory infection in dogs.”
Dr. Hunter also advises dog owners to keep their distance and avoid places with high dog populations such as dog parks or kennels.
“It’s dog to dog so anytime they have close contact with another dog the potential for spread exists, All the droplets from coughing and sneezing and things like that are infective. So, basically, it’s like Covid and everything else. Keep your distance. Doggy day cares are much more popular now. A lot of these dogs are infected at the day cares and boarding facilities.”
Some dogs are more at risk of developing severe symptoms, especially those that are immunocompromised or elderly.
“It can progress to quite severe pneumonia and that would require hospitalization, Antibiotics, oxygen therapy, fluid therapy, most dogs will have a cough that resolves in 10 to 14 days.”
The CDC says that no human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.
“It has not been found in humans yet, The possibility exists because it’s jumped from other mammals to dogs. It’s gone from the horse to the dog and birds to the dog and then become it’s own novel virus in the dog population.”
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog and this season’s canine flu you should contact your local veterinarian.