If you’ve been following the news lately, then chances are you’ve heard about the canine influenza outbreak. Concerned about what this could mean for your dog? Let’s take a look at the facts and what you can do to help protect your dog.
What Is Canine Influenza?
Canine influenza, also known as the “dog flu”, is a highly contagious viral disease. Dogs with canine influenza develop a cough that lasts between two and three weeks. They sometimes exhibit nasal discharge and often have a temperature. In extreme cases, canine influenza symptoms may resemble pneumonia, with the dog developing a high fever and labored, fast breathing. The good news is that canine influenza has a low mortality rate; given the proper veterinary care, most dogs make a full recovery.
Canine influenza is spread through secretions when dogs cough, bark, or sneeze. Dogs can contract canine influenza when they’re in close quarters with a dog who has the disease. If a dog is placed on a grooming table or in a crate which has not been properly disinfected, they can potentially contract canine influenza if a sick dog has previously used the same area.
Where Is Canine Influenza Present?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the 2015 canine influenza outbreak in the United States began in Chicago and rapidly spread. Thousands of dogs have now tested positive for canine influenza, and canine influenza has been confirmed in forty different states, including Texas.
How to Protect Your Dog from Canine Influenza
You don’t have to live in fear of canine influenza, but there are a few precautionary steps that you can take to reduce your dog’s chances of contracting the disease. For one, keep your dog out of highly populated areas, like dog parks, where he could encounter a sick dog. If you plan on boarding your dog, make sure that the facility practices proper disinfectant procedures. Unfortunately thought, no matter how clean a facility may be there is always a risk.
If you suspect that your dog may have canine influenza, call your vet to schedule an appointment. Let your vet know about the symptoms before you bring your dog inside – many vets may have you use an alternative entrance so that your dog is not exposed to the dogs in the waiting room. Your vet can confirm the diagnosis of canine influenza and they can best determine how to best care for and monitor your dog.
There is a vaccine which can help to prevent canine influenza, though not all veterinarians recommend it or offer it. If you have concerns about canine influenza, then it’s best to talk with your vet about your options.
Please also note, canine influenza can sometimes resemble kennel cough, a contagious disease which a vaccine can often prevent. If you plan on boarding your dog in the future, make sure that his kennel cough vaccine is up to date.
Finally, if your dog is diagnosed with canine influenza, it is important that you keep him home until the disease has resolved. Taking your dog out in public while he’s sick will only contribute to the spread of this disease.