For starters, there is no need to panic. Although Canine Influenza, or dog flu, is extremely infectious, it usually causes only mild symptoms for a few days to a couple of weeks. Dogs normally make a full recovery despite treatment. Levels of complications can increase depending on many factors.
About the virus itself
In the USA, Canine Type A influenza virus has been around for a while. Type A H3N8 influenza first appeared in racing greyhounds in 2004. In 2015, the first outbreak of Type A H3N2 influenza occurred. H3N8 was thought to have mutated from a form of equine influenza and H3N2 from avian influenza. Please note, there is no evidence that the canine influenza virus can infect people. The canine Type A H3N2 influenza virus is very different from the H3N2 viruses that cause seasonal outbreaks of the flu in people.
The canine influenza virus is spread via respiratory secretions. Usually from coughing, sneezing and barking. It has also been reported to spread from toys, food, water bowls, surfaces, and by people who have recently handled infected dogs. A healthy dog will shed the virus within a day or two. Often our healthy pets shed the virus before they even start showing clinical signs. However, some may begin showing clinical signs that need to be addressed.
The typical clinical signs include, coughing (usually moist, but occasionally dry), nasal discharge, lethargy and lack of appetite. These symptoms should clear up after a few days, or a couple of weeks with or without treatment. However, one primary concern is that some dogs with preexisting conditions or other bacterial infections may develop pneumonia. Pneumonia is extremely serious and life-threatening. You should take your dog to the Vet immediately if he/she has a temperature of 104°F or greater, a purulent nasal discharge, or rapid/shallow, or labored breathing. ISOLATION IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL FOR INFECTED DOGS. Please don’t take infected dogs into dog parks or other public places where he/she may shed virus and infect other dogs. Confine your dog to your home for four weeks. You can make it fun for them and allow focus on their health and nutrition.
Use our products during those four weeks, or even better, as a preventative care product before hand!
Speaking of Preventative Care – A Healthy Lifestyle is critical
Precautionary measures for dogs are much easier to implement and considerably more effective than similar measures that we go through as humans.
Your dog should already be eating healthy, and with a more balanced diet. We have already explained the importance of their digestive and immune system here. They should already be getting exercise, even if simply regularly taken for walks or to the park. Dogs, even elderly dogs, have less compromised lungs than people do. Therefore, are less likely to develop life-threatening, secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Canine influenza may occur at any time in the year. However, due to the lack of great distance travel (like we as humans do) of our dogs, the disease generally stays confined to isolated, well-defined geographical areas. Hence, one easy way to avoid infection is to avoid the infected areas.
A bivalent vaccination is available that affords protection against both strains of the Type A canine influenza virus. However, developing vaccines for Type A viruses is difficult because the virus is continually morphing and mutating.
Cleaning your house may be one of the best protocols as the Type A viruses appear to be easily destroyed by common disinfectants.
Limiting your healthy dog’s interaction with unfamiliar dogs (that may or may not be infected) is also a good practice.