Canine influenza is becoming more prevalent in California and our Laguna Woods vets see cases most commonly in pets that go to groomers, daycare, dog parks, or are boarded. Here is everything you need to know to keep your pooch protected.
What Is Canine Influenza?
Canine influenza virus (CIV) is typically the result of two different strains of influenza: H3N8 is of equine origin and H3N2 is of avian origin. Both of these strains were previously known to infect species other than dogs, but are now able to infect and spread among dogs.
It is estimated that the H3N8 strain kills between 1% and 5% of dogs that contract it, with most of the deaths being in dogs that already suffer from serious illnesses.
How Canine Influenza Spreads
The canine influenza virus is easily spread from one dog to another. CIV is spread through sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and contaminated objects such as kennel walls and floors, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and on the clothing and skin of people who come in contact with infected dogs. CIV can survive on skin and hands for 12 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
Because canine influenza is a new disease for dogs, all dogs are susceptible to infection. This means that if your dog is exposed to the virus, there is a great likelihood that they will become infected and develop clinical signs. Although most infected dogs will only develop a mild form of canine influenza and recover without complications, some dogs may develop severe, life-threatening pneumonia.
Symptoms Of Canine Influenza
If your dog has contracted canine influenza, there are a number of signs and symptoms that owners should look out for. Here are those symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
- Reduced appetite
It is important to keep in mind that not all dogs will show signs of illness. The severity of symptoms associated with canine influenza in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death.
Should You Get Your Dog Vaccinated?
The decision to vaccinate your dog depends on their level of risk and lifestyle. Indoor dogs with little exposure to other dogs are at less risk than show dogs that travel, or dogs that are kenneled or encounter other dogs frequently. Owners that live in areas where outbreaks are occurring should also consider vaccinating their dogs against canine influenza. Cases have been identified in most US states.
Owners of older dogs with respiratory or heart disease and breeds with short, flat faces should also consider vaccination due to the higher risk for infection and complications. There have been no reported issues with the CIV vaccination to date.
How To Treat Canine Influenza
As with nearly all viral infections, treatment is typically supportive. It is important that your pet be kept in a warm, dry area away from other dogs. They should be fed a high-quality diet and kept hydrated. Good nutrition and care are essential when it comes to ensuring that dogs mount an adequate immune response and can help promote faster recovery.
Dogs affected with a mild form of canine influenza will often develop a secondary bacterial upper respiratory infection. These dogs typically have a thick green mucous discharge from their nose and benefit from antibiotics. Dogs that develop pneumonia may require hospitalization, intravenous fluids and medications, and potent broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Most dogs fully recover from canine influenza within 2 to 3 weeks. It is important to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment. Dogs exposed to the virus should be isolated for 4 weeks to prevent further spread.
What To Do For Your Dog At Home
Virtually 100% of dogs exposed to CIV will become infected. For this reason, it is important that owners of dogs diagnosed with the virus keep them away from other dogs. This includes trips to the groomer’s or dog parks and contact with other dogs during walks and in kennels. Clothing, equipment, floors, and hands should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water after contact with any dog with signs of respiratory illness.