What is it?
How can it affect your pet?
The official name of dog flu is Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), also known as Influenza Type A H3N8.
Canine Influenza Virus has been around for quite a while, but seems to be creating quite stir recently.
Read on to learn the facts on this flu, and decide for yourself how you want to handle it.
Dog Flu Fact #1: Dog Flu Has Been Around for Over a Decade.
Dog Flu has been around for years.
In fact, the virus that causes dog flu (Influenza Type A H3N8) was first identified in Florida in 2004.
According to Merck Animal Health:
“The The H3N8 equine influenza virus has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years.
In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported. Scientists believe that this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has now adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread efficiently among dogs. This is now considered a new dog-specific lineage of H3N8.
In September of 2005, this virus was reported by Dr. Cynda Crawford, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Edward J. Dubovi, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, along with their colleagues, as “a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population” in the United States.”
Influenza Type A H3N8 is extremely contagious and infects the respiratory system. In 2009, the USDA granted Merck full license for the vaccine Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8 in treatment of this virus.
We have a concern with this vaccine.
If it was created sometime between 2004 and 2009, how effective will it be in 2015?
We all know that viruses mutate.
Right now, we do not feel this vaccine is necessary.
Dog Flu Fact #2: Dog Flu Affects Each Dog Differently.
The symptoms and effects of dog flu can range from a total absence of symptoms to hemorrhagic pneumonia.
Some dogs that are exposed to the H3N8 dog flu virus fight off the infection and never show any clinical signs or symptoms.
Some dogs experience a mild manifestation of the virus.
Mild effects include a moist cough and nasal discharge, usually going away on its own within 10-30 days. Some dogs experience a severe manifestation of the virus.
Severely effected dogs develop a high fever (over 104) and very quickly develop the cough and nasal discharge.
In severe cases, the virus affects the lung capillaries, often causing the dog to cough up blood and experience difficult breathing.
Severe cases may also turn into bacterial pneumonia.
According to Merck Animal Health, approximately 20% of infected dogs will show no clinical signs of H3N8, approximately 80% will experience a mild form of the disease, and approximately 10-20% of infected dogs may progress to a more severe manifestation of the virus.
Dog Flu Fact #3: Dog Flu is Highly Contagious to Other Dogs.
Canine Influenza Virus H3N8 is very contagious dog-to-dog, and is transmitted by:
- Respiratory secretions from other dogs through the air via a sneeze or cough
- Contaminated objects like blankets, toys, and dog bowls
- By people moving between infected and uninfected dogs
If your dog is coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease, you should keep him away from other dogs.
You should also clean and disinfect your hands, clothing, equipment and surfaces that are exposed to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.
Note: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence of the Canine Influenza Virus H3N8 being transmitted to humans.
Dog Flu Fact #4: Your Dog Can be Tested for Dog Flu.
Testing can be done at a veterinary clinic.
The test is done via a nasal swab.
Timing is very important, though.
The swab must be taken within one or two days of the onset of the symptoms because there is only a tiny window of time in which isolation of the virus is successful.
Dog Flu Fact #5: Most Dogs Can be Treated for Dog Flu at Home.
The majority of dogs will only experience mild symptoms of the Canine Influenza Virus. Not all dogs will need therapeutic intervention.
Therapy and treatment consists mostly of supportive care while letting the virus run its course (10-30 days). Dogs that develop secondary infections will need antibiotics.
Dogs with secondary infections will experience fever, purulent nasal discharge, productive cough, and possible pneumonia. Sources: