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How To Keep Your Dog Safe from the Flu

the flu
  • 11 August 2017
  • Pet Wants

When flu season hits, there’s no shortage of people talking about this virus. But very few people talk about whether or the flu presents any risks to dogs. The short answer is yes. “Canine influenza” causes dogs to feel ill and presents a variety of risks.

Canine Influenza 101

Over 40 years ago, scientists discovered a strain of the flu known as the H3N8 virus. When it was discovered, this strain only affected horses. However, in 2004, a group of greyhounds in Florida contracted it. Not only does H3N8 now spread easily between dogs, but there’s also a newer strain called H3N2 that also affects dogs.

The basic symptoms of dog flu are similar to those in humans. You may notice your dog sneezing and coughing. Your dog may also have a runny nose and fever of 104-106 F. It’s important to note that as many as 20% of dogs with the flu don’t show any symptoms.

Risks, Contagion, and What You Can Do for Your Dog

The good news is the dog influenza generally isn’t fatal. It does carry a few serious risks though. The most significant is if the flu turns into pneumonia. Just as young children and older adults are most at risk for the human flu, puppies and senior dogs are the most likely to experience significant complications. In addition to age, breeds like Pekinese, French bulldogs and pugs tend to have the hardest time with the flu due to the anatomy of their respiratory tract.

As far as how canine influenza spreads, all it takes is a sneeze, cough, or one dog picking up a toy that has the virus on it. When exposed to H3N8 or H3N2, the likelihood of a dog catching the flu is nearly one hundred percent. Humans can also play a role in spreading dog flu. Although flu strains can’t jump between humans and dogs, if an infected dog sneezes on a person’s clothes, the virus can survive for up to a day, which provides plenty of time for another dog to be exposed.

When a dog gets the flu, the best way to treat it is with lots of rest and fluid. It generally takes dogs two to three weeks to recover. Any dog with the illness should be kept away from other animals during this time.

In terms of preventing dog flu, there is a vaccine for both strains. Although the vaccines don’t always prevent the flu, they can reduce its severity. We recommend asking your vet if your dog will benefit from getting vaccinated.

We hope that this information helps you keep your dog healthy! If you’re looking for a great food that will help support your dog’s health all year long, be sure to take a look at the nutrient-packed dog food blends we offer.