Did you know that your canine companion can get the flu? In fact, there’s an outbreak going on now. Fido’s version, canine influenza virus (CIV)–also often called the dog flu—is an influenza A virus. There are several strains, but the two that are most common in the US are H3N8 and H3N2. These strains are both extremely contagious, and are the culprits behind the current outbreak. A local vet offers some information on this below.
If Fido gets the flu, he’ll likely have many of the same symptoms as you would, such as coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Of these, coughing is the most common. It may also be the most persistent. That said, our furry friends all react differently to the flu. Some pups will not show any symptoms at all. Other dogs may bounce back after a few days, or stay sick for weeks. A few will become severely ill. In rare cases, dog flu can be fatal. Senior dogs and pooches with chronic illnesses and/or immune deficiencies are at highest risk.
Fido’s flu can spread extremely quickly. The virus is transmitted through droplets of saliva, and can remain active in respiratory droplets on surfaces for several hours. Pups can easily contract it through shared toys or dishes. Fido could also get sick by greeting or nose-booping another pooch, or even just by sniffing a stick at a park that a sick dog played with hours ago.
Dogs that have contracted the flu remain contagious for about a month. As one can imagine, places like dog parks, daycares, grooming salons, and kennels can quickly become hotspots of contagion. Another potential source of spread? People! Someone who pets an infected dog and then a healthy one may quickly spread the illness from pooch to pooch. Be aware of the risks when taking Fido to different places. You can also track the current outbreak online here.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the canine flu. In most cases, dogs recover on their own, though they may need some extra TLC. You’ll need to keep your furry pal comfy and hydrated, and monitor him carefully. If you know or suspect that your pup has the flu, reach out to your vet and ask for specific care tips.
Our Advice on Canine Flu in 2024
What are the symptoms of canine influenza (dog flu)?
Canine influenza, or dog flu, presents symptoms similar to human influenza. Common signs include coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Coughing is the most prevalent symptom and can persist. However, it’s important to note that not all dogs with the flu will exhibit symptoms, and the severity can vary. Some recover in a few days, while others stay ill for weeks. In rare cases, it can be fatal, with senior dogs and those with underlying health issues at the highest risk. If you suspect your dog has the flu, consult your veterinarian for guidance on care and monitoring.
How is the dog flu spread among dogs?
The dog flu, or canine influenza, is highly contagious and spreads primarily through respiratory droplets. Infected dogs release these droplets when they bark, cough, or sneeze. The virus can also survive on surfaces for several hours, allowing transmission through shared toys, food bowls, or contact with contaminated surfaces. Dogs can contract the flu by contacting infected dogs directly or indirectly, such as greeting or playing with them. Additionally, people can unwittingly transmit the virus if they touch an infected dog and then interact with a healthy one. This ease of transmission makes places like dog parks, daycares, and kennels potential hotspots for contagion.
What places are considered hotspots for the spread of dog flu?
Places considered hotspots for the spread of dog flu or canine influenza include dog parks, daycares, grooming salons, and kennels. These locations are potential breeding grounds for the virus due to the proximity and interaction among dogs. The virus can easily be transmitted through respiratory droplets, shared toys, food dishes, or contact with contaminated surfaces. Additionally, places where dogs frequently gather and come into contact with one another, such as social events or competitions, can also pose a higher risk of transmission. Dog owners must be cautious when taking their pets to such places and be aware of the potential dangers of dog flu.
Are there different strains of canine influenza?
Yes, there are different strains of canine influenza. The United States typically sees two prevalent canine flu strains, H3N8 and H3N2. These strains exhibit high contagion rates and can induce flu-like symptoms in dogs, such as coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and decreased appetite. Dog guardians must stay informed about these strains, given their potential for rapid transmission, particularly in locations like parks and kennels. Vaccination options are accessible to safeguard dogs against these strains, and dogs in regions with elevated risk or those with frequent canine interactions should consider this preventive measure.
How long does a dog with canine influenza remain contagious?
A dog with canine influenza remains contagious for about a month. During this time, they can spread the virus through respiratory droplets, saliva, and even on surfaces. Dog owners must be cautious, especially if they have been in contact with other dogs or frequented places like dog parks, grooming salons, or kennels. Understanding the contagious period helps prevent the spread of the virus and protects other dogs from getting infected. If your dog has been in contact with a sick dog, monitoring for symptoms and consulting your vet is advisable to ensure early detection and appropriate care.
Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? We’re here to help! Contact us, your local animal clinic in North Miami, FL!