As a dog parent, you probably already understand the importance of feeding, grooming, training, and basic healthcare. While you may give your dog heartworm medication and flea and tick treatments, protecting your dog from other sicknesses is also important. Considering canine influenza is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system caused by two different influenza strains, understanding this dangerous illness is smart for dog owners. With this guide and your veterinarian's assistance, you will understand the signs of canine flu and learn how to treat your dog's illness.
Signs of Canine Influenza
Canine influenza is a virus, which can show different signs in different patients. However, your dog's respiratory system will most likely be affected first. If your dog is showing the following signs, they should see a veterinarian to determine if they have the flu:
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal Discharge – May develop into a thick yellow/green mucous
- Loss of appetite
A fever is also a sign that your dog is suffering from the flu, but you may not understand when your dog's temperature is elevated. Many people believe they can feel their dog's nose to determine if they are sick. Even if your dog's nose is cool and moist, they may still have a dangerous fever.
When healthy, your dog's temperature may range between 101 and 102.5 degrees. A temperature of 103 or higher indicates a fever that should be addressed immediately.
Diagnosing Canine Influenza
If your dog is showing one or more of the above signs, consult your veterinarian immediately. Although most cases are not life-threatening, the flu can lead to secondary issues, such as pneumonia, which can become deadly.
A physical exam and simple test will be used to determine if your dog has the influenza virus. Since it is a virus, treatment of the symptoms will be offered. In some instances, your dog will be prescribed anti-viral medications, reducing the risk of the virus spreading to others.
Helping your dog remain comfortable while the virus runs its course is key. Anti-bacterial medications will be given to treat infections. Since the coughing may cause your dog to vomit and the lack of an appetite will reduce your dog's desire to eat, intravenous fluids may be administered to ensure your dog stays hydrated.
You should also provide your dog with a clean, comfortable bed so they can rest quietly. Canine influenza cannot be transmitted to you and other humans, but it can be spread to other dogs and even cats. If your dog has been diagnosed with the flu and you have other pets in the home, be sure to isolate your dog during the recovery.
Preventing Canine Influenza
Prevention is your best course of action against canine influenza. Fortunately, you can reduce your dog's risk of developing this serious respiratory virus.
Ask your veterinarian about the influenza vaccine. The simple vaccination is not always effective, but it is a great place to start when protecting your dog from the influenza strain.
Be aware of local strains, as well. Pay attention to the news and ask your veterinarian, groomer, and kennel if there have been any reports of canine influenza in the area. If so, avoid the vet's office, groomer, pet stores, dog parks, groomer, kennel, and other public places where dogs may visit. Since dogs can transmit the virus with just a quick sniff of the nose, avoiding other dogs may be your best weapon against the flu.
Canine influenza can cause your dog a great deal of physical and emotional discomfort. Thankfully, proper understanding will help you diagnose, treat, and prevent this virus. Talk to your vet at a place like Columbine Animal Hospital & Emergency Clinic for more information.