What is the dog flu & how to protect your pup from getting it!

In the news as of late an outbreak of the dog flu. What in the world is it? What can you do to protect your pup from getting it?

What is the dog flu?

The dog flu formally is canine influenza. Similar to the human version of the flu, dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by the the Type A influenza virus. There are two different viruses – H3N8, originally from horses & known in the dog population since 2004 (it’s now dog specific) & H3N2, originally from birds & first detected in dogs in South Korea in 2007, arriving in the US in the spring of 2015. 

What are the symptoms?

Some of the signs that a dog could have dog flu include:

  • cough
  • runny nose
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • eye discharge
  • reduced appetite

Do note that not all dogs will show signs that they might have the dog flu. Other dogs may show some or all of the symptoms, and in some causes dogs can have most the severe degree of dog flu that can result in pneumonia and sometimes death. EEEK! Contact your vet ASAP if your dog is showing signs of the dog flu. 

If my dog gets the dog flu, how long will it last?

Most dogs will recover from the dog flu in the span of 2 to 3 weeks.

Dogs can be sick and contagious for up to 3 or 4 weeks! It’s recommended that if your dog has been coughing or showing symptoms of dog flu then quarantine them for 4 to 5 weeks to make sure they can’t spread the flu to their fellow canine friends. 

How is the dog flu spread?

It is thought that the dog flu spreads mainly from dog to dog through respiratory droplets produced from sneezing and coughing from infected dogs, or from contact with contaminated surfaces. If your dog is coughing, sneezing and showing signs of having a respiratory illness make sure to not expose them to other dogs or cats to thwart the spread of the dog flu throughout the community. Additionally wash your hands frequently and swap out clothing if you are planning on visiting friends with dogs or areas where dogs frequent. 

What is the treatment for dog flu?

Depending on the form of the illness (mild to severe), treatment can range from keeping your dog comfortable and hydrated to supportive care that provides intensive hydration to help your dog’s body fight off the illness. 

Is there a vaccine for dog flu?

There is! It will protect your dog against both the H3N8 & H3N2 canine flu variations. Ask your vet for more details and if you should consider vaccinating your dog. 

Here in Minnesota spring has brought in a big batch of the dog flu. The Animal Humane Society temporarily shut down for visitors and dog adoptions in their Golden Valley, Woodbury and Coon Rapids locations when they learned one of their intake pups had been exposed to another with dog flu (the dog was from Oklahoma).  

Oh no!

Does this mean you need to run to your vet with your pup? Nope! If your pup doesn’t feel good keep them home and monitor them, calling your vet if symptoms accrue or get worse. Remember, shelters, boarding kennels and dog daycares tend to be spreading grounds with many dogs are in close proximity to each other. Opt to skip boarding and dog daycare for a couple of weeks until the risk of exposure to the dog flu is minimal. 

If your pup is feeling fine, you may want to consider walks in areas that are less populated and frequented by other dogs to limit their exposure to the dog flu. Or just lay low and chill at home and in your yard so your dog has very little risk of exposure to the dog flu. 

Want more information about the dog flu? Head to the American Veterinarian Medical Association website for all the info.

That adorable comic pup? That’s Tige of Buster Brown! He was a little brown bull dog who got into all sorts of adventures and trouble with Buster Brown from 1902 until 1922. 

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