Choosing the Right Vet for Your Pet

What You Should Know About Your Dog And The Canine Flu

Winter is a season that many people recognize as being high risk for communicable diseases like colds and the different flu strains. However, what many pet owners may not realize is the same elevated risk can apply to their dogs as well. Get to know more about the canine flu and how you can keep your dog safe and healthy throughout the flu season. By learning about treatments and prevention, you can be sure to provide your dog with the care that they need whether they contract the canine flu or not.

What Is Canine Influenza And How Is It Spread?

Canine influenza is a set of several different flu viruses, namely different strains of influenza A. Much like the strains of flu viruses that infect humans, there are numerous strains and the most prevalent ones can change from year to year.

This illness is primarily a respiratory illness. It is transmitted through infected fluids (saliva and excretions from the nose), either through direct contact or through sneezing and coughing. Because of this, it is most commonly spread in kennels or shelters but can also be spread at dog parks or other places where unfamiliar dogs come into close contact with one another.

While people have never been infected by a form of canine flu (meaning it cannot cross over from dogs to humans), a person who has had direct contact with a dog who is infected could theoretically transmit the disease to another dog.

How Can Canine Flu Be Prevented And Treated?

One of the best ways that canine flu can be to keep your dog away from potentially contaminated situations. If your dog needs to be kenneled or boarded, talk to them about any cases of canine flu or kennel cough (an illness that can mimic the symptoms of canine flu), and avoid any that have had recent issues. 

You may also want to ask kennels or boarding facilities about their protocols for isolating sick dogs and preventing illnesses from spreading. Taking your dog to your veterinarian's office for boarding (if they offer it) would be the best solution as they are able to better treat and contain such outbreaks. Washing your hands any time you pet an unfamiliar dog will also help protect them. Wash your hands before and after feeding or changing your dog's water in case you have inadvertently come into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Treatment of canine flu involves rest and ensuring that your dog gets enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be used if your dog is feverish or in pain to reduce swelling and fever. Your veterinarian will also look for signs of another bacterial infection like pneumonia or the like that could also arise along with the canine flu and prescribe antibiotics if necessary.

Now that you know more about the canine flu as well as the ways that you can prevent and treat the illness, you can be sure that you take the best possible care of your dog this flu season.