Canine Influenza or H3N8 Virus

*Information pulled from the CDC website.

What is canine influenza (dog flu)?

Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus referred to as a “canine influenza virus.”

This particular flu has been around since 2004 and has been well known by veterinarians.

What are the signs of this infection in dogs?

The signs of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose and fever, however, a small portion of dogs can develop severe disease. This mimics an upper respiratory infection in dogs. The one main difference is your dog will run a fever.

How serious is the dog flu?

The percentage of dogs infected with this disease that die is very small. It’s similar to the flu in humans where you have seniors and those with weak immune systems that have a more severe reaction. Much like with people, if the flu in an elderly patient is not treated and pneumonia develops then it can become fatal.

Some dogs have asymptomatic infections (no signs), while some have severe infections. Severe illness is characterized by the onset of pneumonia. Although this is a relatively new cause of disease in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to the infection, about 80% of infected dogs will have a mild form of the disease.

How does dog flu spread?

Canine influenza virus can be spread to other dogs by direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by uninfected dogs coming into contact with contaminated objects, and by moving contaminated objects or materials between infected and uninfected dogs. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose other dogs to the virus.

How is canine influenza treated?

Treatment largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated. A broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.

Talk to your vet about whether or not the vaccine is good for you to get. We strongly recommend the vaccine but we do not require it. It’s just like the flu shot in people, some get it and some don’t. Many vets have different philosophies about this vaccine; some say it’s better to get the vaccine while a holistic vet will tell you to not bother with it because it will not prevent them from getting it. They want your dog’s natural immune system to build up antibodies for the flu and they will simply treat the symptoms.

PUPPY’S PLAYPEN RESPONSE:

I ACTUALLY WENT TO A SEMINAR ABOUT H3N8 ABOUT 5 YEARS AGO. THEY HAD THIS BIG SCARY NEWS STORY ABOUT THE DOG FLU KILLING DOGS IN SHELTERS. SINCE THEN, I CONTACTED ALL THE VET CLINICS THAT I KNOW IN OUR AREA AND ASKED THEM TO TALK WITH THEIR PATIENTS ABOUT THE FLU AND DISCUSS THE VACCINE. ALMOST ALL THE VETS I TALKED TO WERE NOT CONCERNED AND SAID THIS IS ALL VERY ‘HYPED-UP’ BUT THEY WOULD KEEP THE VACCINE IN STOCK IN CASE THEIR PATIENTS ASKED FOR IT.

THIS HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME. ALL VETS ARE AWARE OF IT AND IT’S REALLY NOT A BIG DEAL. THE NEWS STORIES ARE SCARY TO HEAR FOR SURE. THIS FLU MIMICS AN UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTION: COUGHING, RUNNING NOSE, LETHARGY, AND FEVER. IF LEFT UNTREATED IT COULD DEVELOP INTO SOMETHING MORE SEVERE LIKE PNEUMONIA. THE PNEUMONIA IS WHAT CAN CAUSE MAJOR PROBLEMS.

SO MY ADVICE, BE AWARE OF YOUR DOG’S HEALTH AND IF YOU SEE THESE SYMPTOMS YOU GO TO THE VET. YOUR VET WILL PRESCRIBE AN ANTIBIOTIC TO PREVENT A SECONDARY INFECTION AND WILL TELL YOU TELL KEEP YOUR DOGGY AWAY FROM DAYCARE OR THE DOG PARKS WHILE THEY ARE SHOWING SYPMTOMS.

AS A FACILITY WE DISINFECT CONSTANTLY. IF WE HEAR YOUR DOGGY COUGHING, AS ALWAYS, WE WILL QUARANTINE YOUR DOGGY AND PLACE THEM ON MEDICAL WATCH. WE MAY CALL YOU TO COME PICK UP YOUR DOGGY FROM DAYCARE IF WE HEAR SIGNIFICANT COUGHING. THIS IS WHAT WE DO FOR KENNEL COUGH AS WELL.

JUST TO REITERATE, IF YOUR DOG BECOMES SICK, THIS IS VERY TREATABLE. IT IS EXTREMELY RARE FOR DOGS TO BECOME SEVERELY SICK FROM CANINE INFLUENZA.