How to Spot Dog Flu Symptoms and Prevent Infection in River North Pets

Coming down with the flu isn’t just a human problem. It can affect our canine friends, too, and it’s just as contagious among dogs as it is among people. While dog flu is not as big of a health concern as rabies, it can still make your pet miserable and uncomfortable. Caring for a sick pet can be stressful–and costly! At Companion Animal Hospital in River North, we’re familiar with dog flu symptoms and know how to treat the illness. Read on to see what those signs are, and what you can do to prevent the spread of dog flu.

dog flu symptoms in river north

What Exactly is Dog Flu?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dog flu (or canine influenza) is a viral infection that affects dogs and, to a lesser extent, cats. Dog flu is considered a Type A influenza virus, and has two known strains: H3N8 and H3N2.

Influenza can produce new strains of the virus, which can infect a variety of animal species. H3N8 is thought to have developed from an equine influenza strain, and H3N2 may have originally circulated among birds in Asia before spreading to dogs.

When a dog is infected with the flu, the virus replicates itself within the lining of the nasal passages and major airways. This causes inflammation of the respiratory tract and a greater risk for bacterial infection. At its core, dog flu is an acute respiratory infection that can occur at any time of year–it’s not seasonal.

The Most Common Dog Flu Symptoms

If your dog is infected with the flu in River North, they’re likely to have these symptoms. If you notice them in your pet, bring them in to the vet as soon as possible.

  • Persistent cough (dry or moist)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Discharge from the eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Labored breathing (if illness is more advanced)

Most dogs that become infected with the flu will have the more mild form. However, some may experience a much more severe effect, such as pneumonia and a high-grade fever. Recovery is achievable with timely and appropriate treatment, but the virus can be fatal for dogs with weakened immune systems.

How is Dog Flu Transmitted?

The flu can spread easily and quickly among dogs that are in close quarters, such as at a boarding kennel, shelter, dog park, groomer, or daycare facility. The virus is spread via aerosols or droplets that get ejected when an infected dog barks, coughs, or sneezes. It can also be spread via contact with contaminated objects like food bowls, leashes, and collars, along with various surfaces. People who may have been in close proximity to an infected dog can also spread the virus.

To prevent the spread of dog flu, it’s essential to disinfect surfaces and objects that an infected dog may have come into contact with, and to wash your hands and clothing. Dog flu can survive on hard surfaces for 2 days, on fabric/clothing for about 24 hours, and on hands for up to 12 hours.

What is the Incubation Period for Dog Flu?

Clinical signs of the virus generally occur between 2 and 3 days following exposure. In the case of the H3N8 strain, incubation is 1-5 days. With the H3N2 strain of the virus, clinical signs can occur 2-8 days after a dog has become infected.

It is important to note that an infected dog will not always show clinical signs, but can still shed the virus and be highly contagious to other dogs. Roughly 20% of dogs infected show no symptoms.

Dog Flu Treatment and Prevention in River North

A majority of dogs infected with the H3N8 or H3N2 strain of dog flu will recover with treatment. The key is to recognize the symptoms before they become more severe and consult with your veterinarian to address your pet’s condition.

Good nutrition and supportive care at home can bolster your pet’s immune system to help them fight the virus. If they have a bacterial infection, your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics, fluids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

If you have a multi-pet household, your dog should be kept isolated from the rest of the group for at least 4 weeks to prevent the spread of infection. Furthermore, to reduce the likelihood of possible re-infection, you might want to have your dog(s) vaccinated for the H3N8 and H3N2 dog flu strains.

The bivalent dog flu vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine usually required by boarding kennels, groomers, and other public facilities where canines are close together. While the vaccine is not a 100% guarantee against infection, it can lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.

The dog flu vaccine is not essential for every dog. Still, if you think your pet may be at risk for infection, contact Companion Animal Hospital River North as soon as possible!

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