Human flu season is in full swing across the United States, but did you know that dogs can also get the flu? While it is a different strain than in humans and is not confined to a specific season, the symptoms are very similar. Some dogs who are infected by the virus are asymptomatic (but still contagious), while others develop mild to severe flu symptoms. Fortunately, the mortality rate for dogs from canine influenza is very low, and there are no reported cases of dogs passing the illness on to humans.
What is Canine Influenza?
Much like human influenza, canine influenza is a respiratory disease that is passed on via the air or contaminated surfaces. Dogs can spread it to one another from coughing, sneezing, or barking in close proximity to one another. This is what makes kennels, shelters, groomers, dog parks, and other areas where dogs are close together prime breeding spots for the virus.
It is important to regularly wipe down surfaces your dog comes in contact with and ensure that it is not sharing food and water bowls, toys, blankets, or leashes with other dogs. If you have more than one dog, this can be difficult, but make sure they do have their own supplies.
What are the Symptoms of Dog Flu?
The symptoms that dogs exhibit are very similar to those that humans experience. They include:
- Runny eyes and nose
- Loss of appetite
Keep in mind that these symptoms can closely resemble kennel cough as well, so it is a good idea to check with your veterinarian if you believe your dog is ill. Canine influenza can last for 10-21 days depending on the strain and severity, and your dog can be contagious before they even begin showing symptoms.
How is Canine Influenza Treated?
There is no cure for the dog flu, but keeping your pet comfortable, hydrated, and fed with a nutritious diet can support their recovery. Ensure they receive plenty of rest and are kept away from other dogs until they are no longer contagious. Your veterinarian may recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to ease discomfort or prescribe an antibiotic if a secondary infection is present (this is very common). Once your dog recovers, it is a good idea to give your home a thorough cleaning to remove any lingering germs and prevent other dogs from becoming ill.
How to Protect Your Pet from Canine Influenza
If your dog regularly spends time around other dogs, likes to play at the dog park, or is regularly boarded, it can be a good idea to get them the canine influenza vaccine. While it does not guarantee they won’t get sick (just like the human flu vaccine), it can help reduce the severity of symptoms if they do. Avoid sharing toys, bowls, or leashes with other dogs who do not live in your home, and make sure you wash your hands and clothing after spending time interacting with other canines.
Although Lake Wylie Pet Resort does not require dogs to receive the canine influenza vaccine prior to boarding, it is recommended to enhance their safety. Kennels, play areas, and supplies are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to help keep all pets healthier. Call today to schedule your dog’s next stay!