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Canine Influenza Explained & How to Deal with it Smartly!

We’re used to flu season as people. As soon as fall rolls around, we’re advised to get our flu vaccine, wash our hands, and stay healthy to avoid contracting this illness. A lot of Smart dog owners aren’t aware there is also a canine flu that affects canines in very similar ways influenza affects people. How is the canine influenza spread? Is it deadly? What precautions should you take as a dog owner? Recently the number of flu cases has risen in the states, as smart parents, we should be on a lookout of any virus that can cause harm to our dogs!

What is Canine influenza? 

Canine influenza, also known as the canine flu, is a strain of influenza virus, specifically a “Type A”. There are two strains of canine flu: H3N8 and H3N2. If you’re very familiar with the human flu, you may recognize H3N2 as that’s the seasonal flu-A humans are infected with. The canine and the human versions of H3N2 are different and not transmitted between dogs and humans.  

The canine flu originated from a strain of H3N8 flu virus that infects horses. It mutated and began to spread to dogs in 2004 when a then-unknown respiratory illness began to spread rapidly among canines. H3N2 began in birds and spread to dogs. There have now been reports of cases where cats have fallen ill with the H3N2 after coming in contact with dogs who were positive for the virus.

What are the Symptoms of Canine Influenza? 

The canine flu causes respiratory symptoms in dogs of all ages and breeds. Signs include:

  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Ocular (eye) discharge
  • Decrease appetite
  • Lethargy

Not all dogs are symptomatic, meaning they can be infected and contagious but not show any symptoms of the illness. Like the human flu, symptoms vary in severity. Some dogs may experience very minor symptoms, and other dogs can develop very severe symptoms. Very ill dogs are at a risk for developing pneumonia or even dying.

Prevention Methods: Vaccine for Canine Influenza?

According to the CDC, there are FDA approved vaccines available for your pooch in the USA. Canine Influenza vaccines should be your top priority for your dog. H3N8 and H3N2 have separate vaccines, something you should keep in mind all the time. furthermore, your veterinarian can provide more information based on your dog’s previous medical history and whether or not vaccines are the best method for prevention against Canine Influenza. Other prevention methods include social distancing for your dog from other ill dogs and making your stay away from ill cats as well because there have been reported cases where dogs contracted the virus from cats.

Canine Flu Recovery Time? 

Right now it feels good to say that most dogs will recover within 2 to 3 weeks from when they got canine Influenza. However, some dogs may develop secondary bacterial infections which may lead to more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian.

Canine Influenza vs Coronavirus? Is my Dog at Risk?

Healthy dogs are susceptible to canine flu but they’re more likely to recover and there aren’t many studies relating animals to coronavirus as of now. There has been a reported case of coronavirus in the Bronx Zoo of Newyork. Both Canine flu and COVID-19 have very similar symptoms which can be confusing at the time of disease. It is very prudent that you get a vet’s diagnosis of your dog if he shows any symptoms. Here is everything you need to know on Coronavirus in dogs. Older dogs or dogs with other illnesses may take longer to recover and are more likely to develop secondary pneumonia.

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