Does Your Dog Have the Flu?
17 June, 2014

I know that many dog owners are concerned with whether or not their dogs have the flu.  Similar to the human flu, it can sometimes be an endemic that is in a certain state or location.  Or your pup simply could have caught it from another dog.  It’s similar to humans having the flu as it isn’t much more than a cold and can be treated with antibiotics and rest.  However, sometimes it is hard to detect if it is actually the flu.


Symptoms for influenza in dogs

Diagnosing dog flu can be difficult because dog flu symptoms – a low fever, persistent cough, runny nose, and just feeling blah – are the same as some other common respiratory diseases. A test is needed to confirm the diagnosis by your vet as you don’t want it to lead to secondary infections. It is closely related to equine flu and might be a mutation of that virus. It can cause mild illness but if a dog has a weak immune system or if it is left untreated, it can be severe.

Typical symptoms of canine influenza include a wet cough with a low fever. This sometimes lasts for about a week or more and there may also be some flem from the nose that is yellow or green in color if a secondary infection arises.

How likely is my dog to catch dog flu?

High-risk areas for catching dog flu include boarding kennels, shelters, doggie daycares, and dog parks. People who attend dog shows also have been on high alert for the flu as it is very contagious.

How your dog might get canine influenza

The virus is contagious and spreads from dog to dog by sharing the same environment. It is generally a respiratory based illness and therefore dogs that are together for a period of time at a boarding facility, or shelter can spread it around. Your dog could even catch it from a dog at a dog park as well even though you are outside.

The symptoms resemble kennel cough and only your vet can diagnose if it is canine influenza or something else. There is currently no reliable rapid test available to veterinarians for diagnosing canine influenza but there are tests available at certain diagnostic labs. If your vet suspects that your dog may have the virus, she or he will usually recommend further tests.

Keep your dog away from other dogs if he has the flu

Any dog with the flu should be kept away from other dogs until the illness completely resolves. If you work with dogs such as in a shelter, daycare, or boarding facility, make sure to wear gloves and continually disinfect the areas.  Further, be sure that animals that are ill are kept away from others until they are well again.

Treatment for the dog flu

Treatment for dog flu is very similar to that for people. Because antibiotics don’t work on a virus, the usual advice is lots of rest and fluids. But antibiotics could be prescribed for secondary infections that might arise from not knowing it was the flu in the first place.

As it is sometimes hard to detect the flu, if you see any of the above symptoms, take your dog to the vet to get some preliminary tests done.  If you catch hit early on, he or she will recover that much more quickly.  However, don’t be too upset if your dog does catch the flu as it is cureable.

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