While it’s still chilly here in Buffalo, winter is definitely giving way to spring and warmer weather. As it does, the chances of getting the flu go down – although I’m pretty sure everyone in our house already got it for the first time in years, despite getting our annual flu vaccines.
I don’t want to open a can of worms, but I do believe in vaccinations. For me and my children. That’s my personal belief – and good medical advice in my opinion. My youngest has a host of asthma and respiratory issues, so it’s important if only for her that we keep flu out of the house.
But what about our furry family members? Can your dog get the flu? Well, it turns out, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, they sure can. In fact, over 1000 cases of canine flu were reported in Chicago in the last few weeks. Here are some facts on canine influenza from the AMVA:
What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza A subtype H3N8 virus first discovered in 2004.
What are common symptoms of the infection in dogs?
In the mild form, the most common sign is a cough that persists for 2-3 weeks. However, some dogs can develop signs of severe pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever (104°F-106°F) and faster breathing. Other signs in infected dogs include nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, fatigue, and refusing food.
Is every dog at risk of infection?
All dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection.
How does it spread?
Canine influenza is spread from dog to dog through the air, contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people interacting with infected and uninfected dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
Can veterinarians test for canine influenza?
The most reliable and sensitive method for confirmation is serologic testing. Antibodies to canine influenza virus can appear in blood as early as 7 days after symptoms begin, and the virus may be identified in nasal or pharyngeal swabs during the first 4 days of illness.
Any treatment options?
In May 2009, the USDA approved the first influenza vaccine for dogs. Trials have shown that it can significantly reduce the duration of illness, including the incidence and severity of damage to the lungs. Dog owners should consult with their vet to determine whether the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.
Can canine influenza infect people?
There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
While I don’t think I have ever seen my dogs exhibit symptoms, I will definitely ask my vet about this next time we go in for a checkup!
For more information about canine influenza virus, visit https://www.avma.org/KB/