With the recent canine influenza outbreak, many pet parents have questions about how to protect their furry family members from getting the sniffles. Here’s what you need to know.
What is it? Also known as ‘dog flu’, canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses (H3N2). The virus can be spread through both direct (i.e. dog bowls, chew toys) and indirect contact with an infected pet. For example, if a friend’s pet is infected and coughs or sneezes on your clothing, the virus would live long enough for you to bring it home to your fur baby. If your pet comes in contact with the virus, the chance that he or she will become infected is nearly 100%.
What are the symptoms? Dog flu symptoms are similar to that of humans. About 80% of dogs that become infected with the virus experience a high fever, coughing, a runny nose, a loss of appetite, and fatigue.
Who’s at risk? Dogs that live in an area where there has been an outbreak in canine flu are as a higher risk. Dogs that are regularly in contact with other dogs (pet boarding, dog parks, etc) also have a higher chance of contracting the virus.
As with humans, puppies and older dogs have a higher risk of experiencing serious illness. Breeds with smushed-in faces (i.e. pugs, French bulldogs) have a harder time dealing with the illness due to their respiratory tract.
Prevention: Dog flu vaccinations are available to help prevent your pooch from contracting the virus. While some dogs may still contract the virus, the vaccine has been proven to reduce the severity of the symptoms. According to AVMA, dogs that are vaccinated are less likely to spread the virus to other dogs.
Contact your vet fore more information!