Dog Flu – Signs, Symptoms, and What to Watch Out For

Wags & Wiggles | Dog FluDog Flu – Signs, Symptoms, and What to Watch Out For

In December 2017, Northern California saw an outbreak of canine influenza, also known as the dog flu. Since December, the virus has spread across the Bay Area, making it’s way to Nevada and parts of Oregon.

Southern California luckily hasn’t seen any cases yet, but it’s always good to be prepared.

There are two known strains of dog flu in the United States – H3N8 and H3N2.

  • H3N8 is an older strain and was first seen in Florida back in 2004. H3N8 first originated in horses before mutating and infecting dogs.
  • H3N2 is a newer strain, responsible for the most recent dog flu outbreak. Originating in Asia, H3N2 mutated from an avian flu strain and eventually made it’s way over to North America.

We’ve posted about the dog flu before,

What are the symptoms of dog flu?

The symptoms of dog flu are similar to the human flu and include:

  • Nasal discharge – can be green in color or purulent
  • Eye discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Fever – normal dog temperature is between 99.5 – 102.5F degrees
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing

Note that canine influenza is different than kennel cough, though they are sometimes incorrectly grouped together. Both kennel cough and dog flu have a lot of the same overlapping symptoms, but kennel cough is most often caused by the Bordetella bacterium. Kennel cough is a form of bronchitis, is similar to a chest cold in humans, and is easily treatable. The cough is more of a honking sound, and the nasal discharge is often clear.

Most cases of canine influenza are mild and easy to treat. However, severe cases can occur – dogs can develop pneumonia and/or high fevers. Canine influenza is fatal in less than 10% of cases.

How do you treat the dog flu?

There is no cure for dog flu, but your veterinarian will be able to recommend supportive care and treatment. Infected dogs need plenty of rest and fluids.

It’s very important to take your dog to the veterinarian if any symptoms of the dog flu are seen. Your vet will be able to properly diagnose and treat your dog and will be able to offer advice on how to keep your dog happy and comfortable. Sometimes, antibiotics are required to treat secondary infections.

Additionally, your vet will be able to advise you on reducing the spread of the virus to other dogs.

Of course, prevention is better than treatment! There is a vaccine available. Wags & Wiggles currently does not require this vaccination, but we definitely recommend it. Talk to your vet to see if this vaccine is right for your dog.

How is the dog flu spread?

Canine influenza is airborne, just like the human flu. The virus is released into the air when infected dogs cough, sneeze, or bark. Dogs infected with canine influenza may not show symptoms – 20-25% are asymptomatic. The incubation period is somewhere between 2-4 days from the initial exposure, and dogs can remain contagious for up to 26 days.

The older H3N8 strain has been found in all but 7 states, and the newer H3N2 strain has been found in 33 states.

The dog flu virus is very contagious – if your dog shows any signs or symptoms, make sure to keep him or her isolated from other dogs. Make an appointment with your veterinarian right away!

The Wags & Wiggles Approach

Here at Wags & Wiggles, we will always be on the look out for the latest health information that affects our local dog community. We have very strong ties with the southern california veterinary community who warn us of any possible danger and keep us safe. We always post notices at the front desk when a virus is going around our community, whether or not we personally have seen cases.

In addition, we reduce the risk of infections by using veterinary grade cleaning products. These products are safe and very effective. We have extensive cleaning protocols and procedures that all of our team members follow to a T.

You may be wondering what you can do to reduce the risk of disease. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to your veterinarian about the canine influenza vaccination
  • If your dog has come down with something, keep him or her home for at least 3 weeks after symptoms are gone
  • If you know your dog has come in contact with a sick dog, keep your dog home for at least 3 weeks
  • Has your dog has been traveling? Keep him or her home for 7 days before coming back to Wags & Wiggles
  • Be informed of the policies of your doggie daycare. Similar to children at school, treatment for illnesses is the responsibility of the pet parent. View our service contract for more information

If you have any questions, please contact us or consult your veterinarian!

2 Responses

  • I like how you mentioned that preventing the dog flu is better than treating it. I would think that the best way to prevent it is regular vet visits. My wife and I want to adopt a dog soon, so I will have to find a veterinarian.

  • Thank you for explaining how your vet can help you with getting your dog treated for the flu. I’ve been wondering how to help my dog, who I think has the flu. I’ll be sure to contact our vet soon to see if they can help us.

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