[A DOG’S LIFE] Get the Facts: Canine Dog Flu

Reba Mug ShotHumans aren’t the only ones to suffer through flu season; dogs can get sick as well. Dog Influenza Type A was first discovered in 2004 in greyhounds in Florida. More recently, a strain of canine flu was detected in the Chicago suburbs that has dog owners concerned. The illness is primarily a respiratory disease that is highly contagious to other dogs.

Canine dog flu can be mild or severe. Dogs infected with a mild case will exhibit a moist cough with nasal discharge and sneezing as well as a lack of appetite and fatigue. Puppies and older dogs are more likely to develop the more serious strain.

Dogs experiencing a severe case will have the mild symptoms and also have a high fever—generally above 104 degrees. Pneumonia may also be present. Up to 20% of dogs won’t show any sign of illness.

Dogs that spend time in shelters and kennels are more susceptible to canine dog flu. It is spread through barking, sneezing or coughing, from one dog to the next. Dogs can also catch it by interacting with a contaminated object. Dog breeds with short snouts such as pugs and bulldogs have a harder time dealing with the flu because of their nasal structure.

There is a vaccine for the flu, but its efficacy is not known. Speak to your vet about the risk of exposure in order to better inform your decision.

In the meantime, dogs with the flu are instructed to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Most dogs get better in two to three weeks. If your dog shows signs of being infected, it’s important that you keep him away from dog parks, kennels and other dogs.

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