Protect Your Pup from this Season’s Doggy Downer

At this point in time, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard a few things about the flu epidemic currently spreading across the country. What you may not have heard, though, is that your precious pup is equally at risk for the nasty virus as well.

Well, not the exact same virus. The H3N2 virus experienced by dogs, also known as “canine influenza,” has affected multiple pups across the country since its initial documentation about three years ago.

If you are a pup owner, here are the facts that you need to know in order to protect your fur baby this winter.

What It Is:

Canine Influenza is a Type A viral infection that currently has two active strands within the United States: H3N8 and H3N2. As mentioned previously, the current outbreak of this virus has been identified as the H3N2 strand. Both strands are considered to be highly transmittable and can infect cats in addition to dogs.

Similar to human influenza, the dog flu is primarily spread through bodily fluids such as mucous and saliva, but can also be transferred through contact with contaminated objects. For this reason, the virus is easily contracted from tainted kennels, toys and other dog accessories.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, at least 80 percent of dogs exposed to the virus become infected and display clinical symptoms, while 20 percent of those infected display no such symptoms at all. Regardless of the presence or lack of symptoms, any infected canine possesses the ability to pass the virus on to others.

Once the animal has contracted canine influenza, a variety of indicators may be displayed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, often times, a persistent cough is developed accompanied by loss of appetite, fever, sneezing, reduction in activity, excessive salivation or overproduction of mucous. 

Courtesy: Detroit Free Press 

What It Means:

At this point, you may be experiencing an information overload. Fret not though, as we’ve organized the most important conclusions to draw from this article here:

First off, it is absolutely essential to the health of your animal that you take the necessary precautions to minimize its chances of exposure. In order to do this, try to limit the amount of time that your dog spends in places such as dog parks, kennels and doggy day-cares. Because of the sheer volume of animals, these facilities inadvertently become breeding grounds for a variety of viral infections. In addition, take proactive steps in sanitizing your dog’s possessions. Finally, consider talking with your veterinarian about the canine influenza vaccine. Although this vaccine has only been proven effective in preventing the H3N8 strand of influenza, it may still be a constructive precaution in protecting your animal. 

Observe your pet closely for signs of the canine flu. As described in more extensive detail above, this virus can make itself known through a variety of symptoms. One of the easiest ways to alert yourself to these indicators is by watching your dog’s feeding, breathing and activity patterns. If you notice any changes in these behaviors, seek professional medical assistance as soon as possible.  

Moreover, if you do suspect that your animal is infected with the flu, there are treatments available to help minimize its discomfort. These medications may include anti-inflammatory drugs, intravenous fluids or antibiotics (if secondary bacterial infections have occurred). Of course, the proper course of treatment for your pet’s particular case will be established by your veterinarian.

Moving Forward:

Overall, while you’re looking out for yourself this flu season, don’t forget to keep your pup in mind too! Most importantly, though, if you ever have any concerns regarding the well-being of your animal, please consult your veterinarian in order to promote healthy pets year-round.