You’ve Heard Of COVID, RSV, The Flu — But Have You Heard Of Dog Flu?

Viruses are widespread and some can devastate our furry companions. There’s recently been an outbreak of dog flu in the United States. It’s a worrisome virus that we should all be aware of so we can prevent it.

We wrote down what you need to know about this potentially dangerous illness below.

What is dog flu?

Dog flu is also known as canine influenza. It’s caused by a type A influenza that affects a dog’s upper respiratory system. According to the American Kennel Club, two strains exist in the United States, H3N8 and H3N2.

The H3N8 is of “equine origin” or it started from horses. H3N2, on the other hand, was detected to be of “avian origin” or that it came from birds. Contrary to popular belief, the illness doesn’t have a “season.” The virus is present all year round.

How does is it spread?

Dog flu is a highly contagious virus that can affect a dog’s upper respiratory system. It can be passed from one dog to another through bodily fluids like when they sneeze, cough, or when they’re exposed to contaminated places or surfaces. Humans may also unknowingly spread the virus to their dogs when they, too, are exposed to the virus. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a reported case of a human being infected by dog flu.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Dogs infected by canine influenza can exhibit symptoms like loss of appetite, lethargy, runny nose, coughing, eye discharge, and fever. Sometimes, however, the illness is asymptomatic and a pup may not show symptoms at all.

How severe is dog flu?

The illness itself typically doesn’t progress up to the point where a dog’s life is jeopardized, but when they develop other illnesses like pneumonia or bacterial infection, it can be fatal.

The recovery time can last for 2 to 3 weeks. They must also be quarantined so as to not expose them to the other dogs, and areas and surfaces where an infected dog stayed must also be disinfected.

How is it treated?

There is no known treatment for dog flu besides supportive care. If a dog is sick from it, their human needs to make sure they stay hydrated all the time. If they refuse to eat or drink, the veterinarian may hydrate the pup through the administration of intravenous fluids. Some medications may be added for treatment like antibiotics if the dog develops a bacterial infection.

Prevention is the best way to protect your animals. There’s a vaccine that can prevent your pup from viruses like dog flu.

What areas are currently seeing outbreaks?

Cases of the illness have been documented across the United States for years, but in 2022 there’s been an outbreak in states like North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Texas, New York, and California. One vet interviewed by a news station said “I don’t think we’ve seen a huge amount of influenza cases in or around the bay.” If you live in one of these areas, make sure you keep a close eye on your four-legged companion.

What’s important to know…

All dogs deserve a healthy life. That’s why it’s crucial to learn about diseases your pet may contract. If your dog happens to be afflicted by dog flu, seek veterinary care and follow their guidelines for your furry friend’s treatment. Most importantly, don’t forget to vaccinate your pets! An immunization against two dominant strains of dog flu is available — talk to your vet!

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