Is your pet sneezing or coughing? Does he seem lethargic and have trouble breathing? These symptoms may indicate dog flu.
Just like humans, pets can easily catch viruses and get sick. The H3N8 virus, which is responsible for canine influenza, can be transmitted from dog to dog. Once an animal is exposed to it, he will begin to show symptoms within two to four days.
Up to 80 percent of the dogs contaminated with this virus will become ill. Some recover within two or three weeks. Others may develop secondary infections that may lead to pneumonia and even death.
The good news is that canine flu has a low mortality rate. The sooner your pet receives treatment, the higher his chances of recovery.
As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to detect dog flu symptoms in early stages. This could save your friend’s life. Here’s what you should know.
What Is Dog Flu?
Canine influenza is a contagious infection caused by the H3N8 and H3N2 viruses. It affects dogs and cats, and can spread between animals.
The H3N8 virus was first identified in 2004. It belongs to the Orthomyxoviridae family, which also causes respiratory diseases in horses, chicken, pigs, and humans.
This disorder affects dogs of all ages and breeds. Unlike human influenza, it doesn’t follow a seasonal pattern. Your beloved friend can get sick at any time of year.
Dogs that interact with other pets are at high risk for infection. Contaminated food, toys, water bowls, and other items can spread the viruses too. Most times, the disease is transmitted through respiratory secretions.
Signs and Symptoms
Contaminated pets typically show signs of kennel cough. They may also experience the following symptoms depending on the severity of their condition:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Low-grade fever
- Nasal discharge
The cough lasts for 10 to 30 days. In severe cases, pets may develop vasculitis and hemorrhagic pneumonia. Fever usually reaches 104 to 106 degrees.
Luckily, mortality rates are below 10 percent. Immediate treatment is crucial.
Beware that you can spread the viruses if you’ve been in contact with an infected animal. Wash your hands and clothes thoroughly after playing with stray dogs or visiting a kennel.
Take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above.
After a physical examination, the veterinarian may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-viral medications. In case he suspects secondary bacterial infections, he may recommend antibiotics.
Currently, there are vaccines available for both viruses. They not only prevent infections but may also reduce the severity and duration of dog flu in case your pet gets sick.
Even after the symptoms subside, your dog could still spread the disease. For this reason, it’s recommended to keep him away from other pets for at least three weeks.
Since the virus doesn’t infect humans, you can’t catch the flu from your dog. Spend more time with him and show your love to him and support him during treatment.
Prevention Is the Key
The best thing you can do for your pet is to make sure he doesn’t catch the virus in the first place. Take him to the vet for vaccines every year, watch out for any signs of disease, and practice good hygiene.
Wash your hands with soap and water after touching other dogs. Disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls regularly. If you visit an animal facility, clean your clothes as soon as you get home.
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