With a title like this, you may be wondering what the flu is and how dogs can get it! The flu is a respiratory illness caused by a virus and typically causes inflammation in your nasopharynx, throat, and lungs which makes breathing difficult for humans. But what about dogs? Can dogs get the flu?
The answer is yes. Dogs can get the flu as they can contact Influenza A and Influenza B viruses at any age. Most dogs are at risk when the strain shifts to H3N8 or H3N2, which is what we’ve been seeing now in increasing numbers.
But, you don’t have to keep your beloved pet away from you just yet. Canine flu is not the same as human flu as they don’t catch cold from the same virus that affects humans. Dogs cannot be infected by human influenza viruses because they do not produce the correct receptors needed on their cell surface for the virus to attach itself to them.
There are many things you can do for your sick dog to help them feel better. This article is all about what a dog will face if they get the flu, so please read on!
First, let’s start with a brief introduction of what Canine flu is.
Canine Flu/ Canine Influenza Virus
Canine flu is a respiratory disease in canines caused by mainly two kinds of viruses.
The H3N8 virus is also known as canine influenza virus. In 1999, the first cases of canine influenza were reported in North America. It can be deadly for canines, with at least 4 percent of dogs coming down with a fatal case of the flu.
The H3N2 virus is also known as “Bird Flu”. It was responsible for killing at least 15 million turkeys and chickens in the United States in 2014. This virus is also associated with canine influenza and was detected in dogs for the first time in 2007 in South Korea and the United States in 2015.
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 the environment around them gets contaminated. Your dog will get sick if they are 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.
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 can get transferred to them.
The human flu is different from canine flu. However, recent reports have shown that there are cases where humans and dogs have been infected by the same virus. But this is under the rarest of circumstances.
Symptoms of Canine Flu
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:
- Runny nose
- Teary eyes
- Difficulty in breathing
- Body pain
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 Bordetellabronchisepticam. 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 are not only limited to cough but also fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness. This 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.
Treatment of Canine Flu
Immediate attention from your veterinarian is important if your dog gets the flu. There is no specific treatment, but your vet can suggest you the best way to look after your pup. A test is also available to confirm whether or not your dog has 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?
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 Can You Prevent Your Dog From Getting Canine Flu?
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:
- 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.
Find more information about dog health here!