Can Dogs Get the Flu? How Can You Keep Your Dog Safe from Canine Influenza?

Can dogs get the flu

It’s that time of the year when seasons change and you have got a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. It’s the flu! Are you worried that your dog will catch it too? The answer to “Can dogs get the flu?” is yes. Dogs can get the flu. But, you don’t have to keep your beloved pet away from you just yet. They don’t catch cold from the same virus that affects you. Dogs get a different kind of flu called Canine flu or Canine influenza.

Canine Flu/ Canine Influenza Virus

Canine flu is a respiratory disease in canines caused by mainly two kinds of viruses.

  • H3N8
  • H3N2

The H3N8 virus was first seen in horses and then spread to dogs in 2004. Infection was spread in a group of Greyhounds in the Florida racetrack in January 2004. It was the first instance and the dogs had no natural immunity to fight the virus.

The H3N2 virus was detected in dogs for the first time in 2007 in South Korea and the United States in 2015.

Symptoms of Canine Flu

Can dogs get the flu
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The symptoms are similar to when you catch a cold. According to PetMD, “While there are differences in the types of viruses that infect humans versus dogs, the symptoms are basically the same: sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes.”

Commonly found symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Body pain

Treatment of Canine Flu

Can dogs get the flu
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Immediate attention from your veterinarian is important if your dog gets the flu. There is no specific treatment for canine flu, but your vet can suggest you the best way to look after your pup. A test is also available to confirm whether or not they have the influenza virus. The veterinarian will surely take care of it.

Some dogs won’t need medical attention if the symptoms are insignificant. Make sure the dogs get proper rest and are well-hydrated throughout the day. Watch their diet and encourage them to eat even if they deny you with their pretty puppy eyes. Avoid taking them anywhere crowded as there is a chance that your dog will infect another dog. You can keep them home all day and give them as much love and care as you want because the virus will not affect you.

Is a Vaccine Available?

Can dogs get the flu
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Yes. Vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 viruses. There is also a vaccine that covers both the viruses in one shot.

If you live in an area with high cases of dog flu, it is better to contact your veterinarian beforehand and get your dog vaccinated (only if the vet recommends it).

How Does Canine Influenza Spread?

Unlike human flu, canine flu is not seasonal. It is spread through infected dogs when they cough, sneeze, or bark, and then, the environment gets contaminated. Your dog will get sick if he/she is exposed to an infected environment, or to the infected dog directly. It can also spread from shared objects between dogs such as water bowls, collars, and kennels.

Can Dogs Get the Flu from Humans?

The human flu is different from canine flu. Previously, the answer to this question would have been a straight no. But, recent reports have shown that there are cases where humans and dogs have been infected by the same virus. This is under the rarest of circumstances, so the answer is still almost no.

The only other way your dog can get the flu from you is if you have been in contact with an infected dog. The virus from the infected dog might stay with you. It survives in your skin for about two minutes and on your clothes for longer than a day. And when you come home and cuddle with your pooch, the virus could get transferred.

Can the Canine Influenza Virus Affect You?

No. The virus only gets to your dog, not you. According to PetMD, so far, there have been no reported human cases.

Can dogs get the flu

Difference between Canine Flu and Kennel Cough

Most dog owners confuse Dog flu with Kennel cough.

Kennel Cough, or Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is a kind of cough caused by a bacterium called Bordetella bronchisepticam. We know it sounds awful, but it is actually just a normal dry cough. Most dogs recover on their own, without any trip to the vet or medication.

The main difference between dog flu and kennel cough is the symptoms. Dogs with kennel cough get a persistent cough, occasionally a sneeze or two. However, the symptoms of flu include not only cough but also fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness that can get your pooch severely ill.

If you are still confused between the two, there is no harm in contacting your veterinarian immediately when the first symptoms appear.

You can know more about kennel cough here.

“I Think My Dog Has the Flu! What Do I Do?”

Can dogs get the flu
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Firstly, don’t panic. Watch the initial symptoms carefully and pay attention to your dog’s behavioral changes. If you observe mild cough and cold, take proper care of your lovely dog as you would of yourself. You must assure they are well-rested and hydrated regularly. On the other hand, if you detect further symptoms of flu, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will provide the required medication and your dog will be up and running in no time.

“Can I Prevent My Dog from Getting Canine Flu?”

Unfortunately, No. There is no way you can prevent your fur buddy from getting the flu. Not even vaccines can fully confirm the prevention. You can, however, take some precautions such as:

  • Make sure that every vaccination schedule is up-to-date.
  • Keep everything related to your dog clean and sanitary. This includes their food bowls, collars, as well as their toys.
  • As much as your dog insists on jumping and playing around all day, ensure that they are getting enough sleep (12-14 hours a day).
  • Feed them a healthy balanced diet so that they get all the nutrients properly.
  • If you hear any news of an influenza outbreak in your community, keep your dog inside until the situation subsides.

Dogs can definitely get the flu. But, we assure you, with proper rest, balanced diet, medication (if needed), and lots of love and affection from your side, your dog will be perfectly fit and fine sooner than you realize.

For more information about dog health, visit our website.

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