According to Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer of AKC, they are starting to get reports of canine influenza outbreaks in some areas of the country.
Symptoms to watch for:lethargy, fever, decrease in appetite, cough, runny eyes/nose, possibly vomiting. Untreated, your dog may even develop pneumonia.
As in humans, dog flu can be fatal, but is usually not. If your dog doesn’t seem to be getting better after 4 – 5 days, you will want to call your vet.
If your dog goes to daycare, boarding, dog parks, and / or other areas where he or she is in close contact with other dogs, s/he will be at higher risk of contracting the virus than if your dog stays home. On a related note, if your dog is sick, don’t take him or her to places where the bug can be spread.
The problem is, your dog will be contagious starting 3 – 4 days before developing any symptoms and will continue to be contagious 7 – 10 days after feeling better. Any dog exposed to the virus, either by meeting a contagious dog or by sharing bowls and toys with a contagious dog, will likely get the virus, but about 20% will never show any symptoms of the flu. The remaining 80% will become ill.
There is a vaccine available for the two known strains, H3N8 and H3N2, so if you think your dog is at risk, ask your vet about taking this precaution. The vaccine is given twice, two weeks apart, and is the best way to prevent your dog’s getting the flu.
Other steps you can take to protect your dog:
If you interact with more than one dog, wash your hands in between.
Use bleach water to clean shared toys and dishes.
Isolate sick dogs for 10 days after symptoms go away.
If you need veterinary assistance to get your dog through a case of dog flu, call ahead so they can provide a way to keep your dog separate from the other dogs in the waiting room. Even if your dog seems to be recovering well, let your vet know he or she has the flu so they can keep track of outbreaks in your area.
Don’t worry, your dog cannot pass the flu to you, only to other dogs.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!