As a dog owner, keeping your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date can protect your furry friend from a variety of illnesses. One such illness is canine influenza, also known as dog flu. If you’re unsure what canine influenza is, or how it’s spread, this article will provide you with what you need to know to keep your pup safe, happy and healthy.
Canine Influenza (CIV), also known as dog flu, spreads via respiratory droplets, including by sniffing and licking other dogs and objects other dogs have encountered. Infected dogs can also transmit the virus through barking, coughing, and sneezing. This disease initially was only found in a few states, but now has become endemic within all of the USA, which means it is here to stay. Unlike human influenza which is seen mostly during the fall and winter months, dog flu is not considered a seasonal virus. Infections in dogs can occur anytime during the year, and most occur in areas where dogs congregate, such as dog parks, dog daycare centers, and boarding facilities.
The most common symptom of canine influenza is a persistent cough that typically lasts for 10-21 days. Other symptoms include nasal discharge, runny eyes, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. These symptoms can range in severity; some dogs may experience mild symptoms while others may become severely ill and require hospitalization. In some cases, secondary bacterial infections can occur which can lead to pneumonia and other more serious health issues.
While all dogs are susceptible to the flu, younger and older dogs or those that have underlying health conditions are more prone to complications from an infection. Most dogs will recover within two to three weeks(1) from the onset of symptoms, however, some may develop complications such as pneumonia and require more intensive treatment.
The best way to protect your pet from canine influenza is by ensuring that their vaccinations are up-to-date. This is especially important if you take your pup to public places where there may be other animals such as dog parks or doggy daycares since these areas are prime locations for spreading the virus. Finally, make sure you regularly clean and disinfect any surfaces your pup comes into contact with such as bedding or toys since these surfaces can easily become contaminated with canine influenza virus particles.
As this is a newer disease and a newer vaccination that was initially recommended only for those at the highest risk, your pet may not have received the CIV vaccination. In that case, a set of two vaccines, three to four weeks apart is needed. For those who have already had the initial series of vaccinations, the flu shot is given yearly.
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