How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has The Flu?
14 December, 2016
dog flu

Dogs can get the flu and just as in humans, it can sometimes be an epidemic in a certain state or even location. Or simply, a dog will catch the canine flu from another dog.  However, sometimes it is hard to detect if your dog actually has the flu.

Symptoms for influenza in dogs

Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different types of flu:

Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. Occasionally, it will be more of a dry cough. In most cases, the symptoms will last two to three weeks will typically go away on its own. Red and/or runny eyes and runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In most cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus.

Severe – Usually these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop signs very quickly. Pneumonia can occurs as the flu virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, so your dog may cough up blood and have trouble breathing.

How is the flu diagnosed by your vet?

Diagnosing dog flu can be difficult because dog flu symptoms, a low fever, persistent cough, runny nose, and low energy 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 your dog has a weak immune system or if it is left untreated, it can be severe.

How likely is my dog to catch dog flu?

High-risk areas for catching dog flu include boarding kennels, shelters, doggie daycare, and dog parks.

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.

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; the same should be done with your own dog to be on the safe side.

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 occur from not knowing it was the flu in the first place.

The severe form needs to be treated aggressively with a broad spectrum of antibiotics, fluids and other general support treatments. Hospitalization and isolation are sometimes necessary until the dog is stable.

If you see any of the above flu symptoms, take your dog to the vet to get some preliminary tests done.  If you catch it early on, he or she will recover that much more quickly.  And it is curable, so not to worry too much!


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