At the outset of every flu season, we hear about a variety of flu strains that pose a threat to human health. Certain strains of flu also pose health threats to dogs. In particular, the “canine” flu is the strain that dog owners should be concerned with, as it can make your dog sick. Depending on the overall health of your dog, canine flu can be very serious, even deadly.
What Are the Symptoms?
Some dogs show no symptoms when infected with this flu. In fact, as many as 20% of all dogs will not have flu symptoms.
Signs your dog has the flu are similar to the signs of flu in humans. Your dog may have a runny nose, cough and sneeze often. It is not unusual for a dog with canine flu to be lethargic and not that interested in eating. The dog may also have a fever of 104-106 F.
What Are the Risks?
If your dog is in good condition and gets appropriate care, your dog can survive canine flu, and most dogs do. However, do be aware that the flu is more serious than a mild cold or respiratory infection. Your dog can develop a secondary respiratory infection that could become pneumonia. Dogs that are high-risk are dogs with existing conditions, senior dogs and puppies.
Also, some breeds are prone to respiratory problems. For example, dogs with flat noses such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers and Pekinese are particularly susceptible to respiratory problems. Any disease that attacks the respiratory disease such as the flu can pose a higher risk to those breeds.
Is Canine Flu Contagious?
Yes, canine flu is very contagious between dogs. The canine flu cannot be passed from a dog to a human. (At some point in the future, however, the virus could mutate and dog-to-human transmission could become possible.)
When your dog is exposed to the canine flu, your dog has almost a 100% chance of contracting the disease. Most dogs in the United States have no immunity from the flu. Our dogs have not developed any natural immunity, nor have most dogs been immunized.
The canine flu is spread from one dog to another when an infected dog sneezes or coughs on another dog. Also, the flu virus can live on objects for some time. A dog can catch the flu by putting an infected ball or toy into his mouth, or eating food from an infected dog’s food bowl or water dish.
Likewise, if the virus from an infected dog lands on a human, the human can transmit the virus to another dog by petting it, allowing the dog to sniff or lick your skin or coming into contact with it. On human skin, the virus can survive for a couple of minutes. On clothes, it can live for a day or more.
What Is the Best Treatment for a Dog with Canine Flu?
The best treatment for your dog is similar to that when humans have the flu. The first step is to become familiar with your dog’s behavior and habits so that you are able to recognize the signs that your dog is not well. Have your dog examined by your vet. The problem could be the flu, or it could be something else that is more dangerous for your dog.
After your vet examines your dog and concludes that your dog has the flu, your dog will need rest and fluids. Give your dog a quiet, comfortable place to rest as it fights off the disease. Give your dog easy access to lots of clean, fresh water. If your vet has prescribed antibiotics to fight a bacterial infection along with the flu or any other medications to make your dog more comfortable, be sure to give the dog its medications as prescribed. Most dogs recover in two or three weeks. Your vet may want to monitor your dog during that period to ensure its recovery is progressing as it should.
In no event should you give the dog any medicines designed for humans, as many of those medications contain substances that are toxic — even lethal — to dogs. You should only give your dog medications prescribed by your vet.
It is important to prevent your dog from spreading the flu to other dogs. Keep the dog isolated from other dogs in your household. Do not take the dog to dog parks, pet stores, boarding facilities or anywhere the dog could come into contact with another dog.
Is a Vaccination Available for Canine Flu?
A vaccine is available for the known strains of canine flu. You can get a vaccine that covers them in a single shot. Like the flu shot for humans, it can prevent the flu or reduce the severity of the effects if the dog catches it.
Reach Out to an Experienced Dog Walking Company
If your dog is showing signs of illness and you need help providing it with the best care possible, you can get help from the experts at Paw Pals. They are professionally trained in providing safe dog walking and dog-sitting services to busy owners. They are trained to recognize when your dog is ill and trained in giving first aid in emergency situations. Make sure your dog is in good hands with the Paw Pals experts. Contact them for more information.