As a dog parent, you’re probably concerned about annual outbreaks of canine flu and how succeptable your dog may be. There is a vaccine for older strains of dog flu, but it doesn’t always provide the necessary protection for new ones. So what can you do to lessen the chance of your dog getting the flu?
The Basics About Canine Flu
Dog flu, or Canine Influenza H3N2, is a highly contagious infection caused by a virus that’s transmitted by sneezing and coughing, by contact with contaminated items such as a water bowl or toy, and by nose-to-nose contact between dogs. The virus can live on surfaces up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for up to 12 hours.
You’ll want to watch for symptoms of dog flu so you can seek the advice of your veterinarian. In milder cases, the symptoms are similar to kennel cough. But if your dog has any of these symptoms, it may be best to have your vet confirm or rule out the presence of Canine Influenza H3N2: Persistent cough, fever, excessive nasal or eye discharge, reduced appetite and reduced activity.
Other helpful facts are that dog flu has a low death rate, less than 1%. You cannot catch the flu from your pup, so it’s safe to give them the love they deserve. Keep them comfortable, it just needs to run its course. Treatment is plenty of rest, fluids and cough medicine prescribed by the vet. More severe cases may require hospitalization.
You may be noticing warning signs at typical places that dogs gather: dog parks, boarding facilities, vet offices and doggie daycares. Not surprising, as the disease is so easily spread by airborne or physical contact between dogs.
As a loving pet parent, you can be proactive in the well-being of your dog. Educating yourself is the first step in prevention. Here’s what you can do to help keep your dog from catching the virus and help toward controlling the outbreak:
- Keep your dog home if they are showing signs of, or have been diagnosed with, dog flu. Just as you would hope other moms would keep their children home if they’re sick … same concept.
- Limit your dog’s contact with other dogs. Avoid places where the outbreak has been reported, or where there is a higher chance of being infected. A romp in the dog park may have to wait.
- Ask questions! If you absolutely must take your dog to the daycare or boarding facility, ask if they have had any cases of the flu. Find out what they’re doing to help prevent the spread of the flu.
- Wash your hands whenever you pet another dog. Really? Remember, the virus can be spread from your hands to your pooch.
Remember, if you are at all concerned that your dog may have the flu, or was exposed to a dog that has been diagnosed with the flu, visit your veterinarian for professional advice.
This blog is brought to you by Under the Weather, provider of products for sick dogs.