Dogs can't talk to us, so it's our job to pay attention and know the symptoms of dog flu.
Can we just admit that our best friends are strange? No, not our human friends (although they may be odd). Our furry friends, dogs, are fascinating animals. They like to roll around in the mud, an ideal date night is playing fetch, and they eat strange things off the sidewalk. Even though dogs almost seem human sometimes, they still have to communicate to us through body language. That's why it's important to know the symptoms of dog flu so you can spot it quickly when your dog is sick.
What is dog flu
Dog flu, also called Canine Influenza, is a contagious Type A influenza that attacks the respiratory system of dogs. Dog flu is not currently known to infect humans, but any dog is susceptible. There are currently two known strains of dog flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one strain of dog flu originated in horses, and another more recent strain is an avian flu. Both strains adapted to infect dogs, and one strain is beginning to appear in cats, as well.
Symptoms of dog flu
The symptoms of dog flu are similar to kennel cough, and just like humans, dogs with the infection may present differently. Some dogs show very few symptoms at all, which is why it's important to visit your vet at the first sign of illness.
The most common symptoms of dog flu are coughing, a runny nose, and a mild fever. In addition to those three, other symptoms of dog flu include:
- High fever
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
In short, the symptoms of dog flu are not very different than the symptoms humans experience when we get the flu.
How is dog flu spread
Dog flu is highly contagious, and infected dogs can carry and spread the virus for several days before they begin to show symptoms. The virus spreads through contact with the respiratory discharge of an infected dog or infected items. Air distributes the flu virus when an infected dog coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with food bowls, toys, or other surfaces also spreads the virus. The flu can live on those surfaces for up to 48 hours.
Because of the close proximity, dogs at kennels, dog daycare, and boarding facilities are most at risk for contracting dog flu.
Preventing dog flu
It's difficult to prevent dog flu. At-risk dogs can get an influenza vaccine, or you can avoid doggy daycare, dog parks, and boarding facilities. If you pet another dog, wash your hands before you pet your dog. If you notice any of the symptoms of dog flu in your dog, keep him isolated and make an appointment with your vet.
The good news about dog flu
Yes, there is some good news! Humans aren't susceptible to dog flu, aside from the worry of watching your best friend suffer through it. However, like most strains of human flu, the dog flu virus will go away on its own in mild cases. Severe cases and secondary infections will require more aggressive care, but even in those cases, it's rare that a dog will die from the flu if you obtain veterinary care as soon as possible.
Taking care of your dog
Make sure your dog gets plenty of love, water, rest, and any medicines prescribed by your vet.
Do NOT give your dog human medications unless your vet prescribes them. Because a dog's metabolism works differently than a human's, even a small "human" dose could be enough to damage your dog's liver or kidneys.
Chances are, your dog will be back to normal in about two weeks. You'll get back to date nights playing fetch and keeping Rover out of the toilet bowl.
The costs of veterinarian care add up fast. Add Pet Insurance to your homeowners policy so you won't need to worry about an unexpected vet bill, or worse, a treatment that’s way out of budget for your best friend.
Has your dog ever contracted the dog flu? How did you know they were sick and what did you do about it? Share your thoughts in the comments.