Surprisingly enough, our furry friends can come down with the flu, just like us! However, influenza for a dog is different from influenza for us humans. Even though our symptoms can be similar, the viruses that cause these flus are of totally different strains. If you notice your fur baby suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms, it’s likely that they’ve come down with a dog flu. A dog flu can lead to upper respiratory infections that should definitely be looked into sooner rather than later, as they can become serious. It’s important to know what to look for in a dog flu and know how to identify symptoms.
Symptoms of the dog flu
The symptoms of the dog flu are quite similar to us. They include: a fever, cough, sneezing, lack of energy, heavy breathing, lack of appetite, and even green or yellow substances around the eyes and nose. The dog flu is commonly confused with kennel cough, another common upper respiratory infection. The difference between the two is that while kennel cough is a bacterial infection and can be easily treated with antibiotics, the dog flu is a viral infection that antibiotics have no effect over.
What exactly causes the dog flu?
The two viruses that can cause the dog flu, CIV H3N8 and H3N2, are extremely contagious and spread fast between dogs because dogs have little immunity against the virus unless they are vaccinated. Like humans, this virus is spread through shared contact with other dogs and is airborne. It can be spread by sneezing, coughing, and even barking. The dog flu is typically mild and dogs who contract it will recover within 2-3 weeks. Keep in mind, dogs with shorter snouts may have a tougher respiratory tract which could cause their recovery time to be a bit longer.
Another thing to consider is that there isn’t a designated dog flu “season”. This flu can happen at any time of year and almost every dog of any age and breed are equally as susceptible to it.
As of now, there are no approved treatments for the dog flu. It’s possible that a veterinarian will recommend some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to overcome a fever and inflammation in the nasal passages. They can also provide antibiotics if the flu develops a secondary bacterial infection.
Besides medical treatment, there are still some remedies you can do to help your sick pooch:
Providing soft and strong smelling foods can make mealtime seem more appealing to a dog with a lack of appetite. Slightly heating up their food can enhance their smell.
Just like humans, making sure your dog is constantly hydrated is a great way to speed up their recovery.
Provide them with a comfortable spot to recover
Wash their face with a warm washcloth to wipe away any of that icky discharge from their nose or eyes.
How to Prevent the dog flu
The preventative strategies to prevent the dog flu are essentially the same as preventing the human flu: Talk to your vet about vaccinating your dog, isolate you dog if they are showing any of these symptoms, and wash your hands after touching other dogs.
Remember: There is no evidence showing that this strain of dog flu can be passed to humans. However, humans can still be carriers and pass the virus to other dogs. This is why it’s very important to keep your hands clean after petting a dog and before/after you touch your own!