canine inlfuenzaLuckily, the flu hits people during certain months and takes a break that lasts through late spring to early fall. This allows us to mobilize quickly and protect ourselves with the flu vaccine before it begins to spread. Unfortunately, our dogs aren’t in the same boat. Canine influenza doesn’t have a “season” in which transmission is most likely. It’s a highly contagious respiratory virus, but with knowledge and awareness, you can protect your dog from it.

Double Trouble

There are currently two strains of canine influenza: H3N8 and H3N2. The former usually appears 1-5 days after exposure, while the latter produces symptoms after 2-8 days. Approximately half of all patients will not exhibit any symptoms, although they are still contagious. Typical symptoms of canine influenza include:

  • Moist cough that continues for 10-30 days
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Discharge from the eyes

Confirmed cases are still considered contagious for up to a month, even if symptoms resolve in 2-3 weeks. While humans have not been infected with either strain, canine influenza can infect cats. There’s currently not a vaccine for felines. For them, symptoms range from sneezing to coughing to nasal discharge.

If left alone, canine influenza can cause secondary infections, such as pneumonia. The mortality rate for Canine Influenza is approximately 5%. .

It’s Alive

Canine influenza can survive in the air for about 2 days on average and 24 hours on clothing, equipment, human hands, and other surfaces. Healthy dogs are exposed via the respiratory secretions of infected dogs, such as direct nasal discharge or through objects that were previously played with or touched by an infected dog, such as water bowls or toys.

It can be killed with strong disinfectants on household surfaces.

What to Do

It is important to protect your own pet with the canine influenza combination vaccine if it will be attending shows, field trials or other large gatherings of dogs. After the initial vaccination, a booster is required 2-4 weeks later for a full year’s immunity. Those who have been vaccinated may still get sick, but will have drastically reduced symptoms.

There is no cure for canine influenza. Some supportive treatments may include IV fluids to prevent dehydration, sustained rest in a quiet, warm place, and proper nutrition to boost immunity.

Prevent Canine Influenza

Since dogs get canine influenza from other dogs, it makes sense to restrict (or at least reduce) time spent in places where groups of dogs are known to gather. Dog parks, boarding facilities, daycares, and training/showing events can all harbor the virus.

Older dogs, those with compromised immunity, brachycephalic breeds, and puppies should receive additional vigilance and protection.

We can test your dog in order to diagnose and identify which strain of canine influenza they were exposed to and support recovery through ongoing treatment.

In the Loop

Please let us know if we can address any questions or concerns. Canine influenza is a potential threat to our Texan dogs. However, with education and awareness, we hope we can eliminate the risks associated with this respiratory disease.