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Like humans, dogs can get the flu too. It is termed ‘canine influenza’. This not only makes your dog sick, but can be life threatening as well. Canine influenza is contagious.
It is caused by a particular Type A influenza virus known specially to infect dogs. Canine influenza can come from H3N8 and H3N2- two different influenza A viruses.
Canine influenza gets spread from one dog to another as the airborne viruses are emitted through respiratory secretions like sneezing. The virus gets transmitted when a dog who is presently free from the flu:
- Comes in contact with an infected dog. An infected dog can spread virus for a period of 10 days, with maximum secretions between two days to four days post exposure to virus.
- Touches contaminated objects. The virus remains potent on surfaces for about two days. On clothing-up to a day
- Contacts individuals who carry it on clothing or hands. The virus can survive on a human hand for a day.
Canines infected with either H3N2 or the H3N8 virus will usually begin to exhibit disease related symptoms within two to four days post exposure to the virus.
- A vast majority of infected canines will show mild symptoms like fever, sneezing, runny nose and persistent cough. The usual treatment will be non-responsive in such cases. The signs, at first glance, are quite similar to kennel cough. The latter is another common contagious disease which happens only in canines.
- A fewer proportion of dogs will not exhibit any kind of disease, but will spread the virus everywhere
- The remainder of the infected dogs will be laid down by canine influenza. Pneumonia can develop. This condition is characterized by labored breathing along with a number of other respiratory signs.
The canine influenza infection lasts for anytime from two weeks to four weeks. If you have not vaccinated your dog, it may become infected. It is to be noted that dog flu is a comparatively new disease. Dogs have not developed any immunity to it for this reason. It follows that majority of dogs are open to this specific infection.
Canine influenza, unfortunately, has no particular treatment. Supportive care like providing fluids to stave off hydration, giving proper medications and healthy food will relieve the symptoms. Your dog could make an adequate immune response to permit due recovery from the dog flu. Broad spectrum antibiotics may also be given to treat any kind of secondary infection. If the dog is extremely ill, it can be offered supplemental oxygen. Long term hospitalization could be a possibility. A H3N8 vaccine and H3N2 vaccine exists. There is also one another vaccine which covers both of the viruses.