CANINE INFLUENZA (DOG FLU)
Every year many people catch the flu and fall sick. Dogs are no exceptions either. However, in the case of dogs, only certain breeds are affected by certain canine flu viruses in addition to those that are present throughout the year.
Presently, there are three strains of viruses that have been known to cause canine flu among pets. The H3N8 virus which initially affected horses now affects dogs as well, having undergone mutations over time. The H3N2 virus is another canine influenza-causing virus strain which had first plagued birds. The H5N2 is the latest virus strain that has been found to cause dog flu in pets. However, vaccines are available for the H3N8 and H3N2 dog flu virus strains.
Much like flu viruses that affect human beings, canine influenza is airborne. It is also transmitted through contaminated objects and environments such as water bowls, collars, kennel surfaces, or even through people who themselves have been in close proximity to an infected dog. Crowded places like kennels, grooming parlors, day care centers, and dog parks are some of the hotspots for dog flu. Your pet is more likely to contract the virus when in the same environment as an infected dog. To add to that, dogs are also the most infectious during the incubation period when they are largely asymptomatic.
Some of the symptoms of dog flu include coughing (wet and dry), sneezing, fever, runny eyes and nose, lethargy and breathing difficulties. If you notice such changes in your pet, you must notify your veterinarian. Although there is no cure for dog flu, with the guidance of your vet, you can effectively help your dog manage it. Giving your pet comfort and support and in some cases, additional medical care like fluids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as following a vet-recommended nutrition plan, are the best ways of leading your pet down the path of recovery. Preventative measures include avoiding crowded places with your dog and keeping your hands, arms and clothes clean.