Canine Influenza: Canine Flu Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Transmission, Prevention
Canine influenza (also known as the canine flu) is a fairly recent disease that is caused by the canine influenza virus. It is a relatively new disease that began affecting dogs in 2004. The first case was found in Greyhounds at a racing track in Florida. It is believed that the influenza virus affecting horses mutated and crossed species. Within 3 months of its discovery, cases of the canine flu and symptoms of canine influenza began sprouting up in various regions. Since that time, the canine flu has been found in 38 states across the country.
A Note About Canine Influenza Environment
In this article we hope to familiarize you with the canine flu so you can better protect your pets and any animals in your care. Throughout the article we will use the term “canine influenza environment” to refer to an area that has been infected with the disease.
What is Canine Influenza?
The canine flu is a respiratory infection caused by the H3N8 canine influenza virus. Since it is a relatively new disease, all dogs are susceptible to the condition and have no natural immunity. For this reason it is best to avoid a canine influenza environment if at all possible. If your neighbor or friend has a dog who is suffering from a respiratory infection, even if there is no confirmation that it is the canine flu, keep your pet away just to be safe. Nearly every dog who is exposed to the disease will develop symptoms of canine influenza.
Symptoms of Canine Influenza
What Do Canine Influenza Symptoms Look Like?
If a dog is exposed to a canine influenza environment and contracts the disease, he will begin showing symptoms of canine influenza within 2-4 days. The majority of dogs contract a mild form of the canine influenza virus. Other dogs develop a secondary infection and suffer from a much severe form of the canine flu. Canine influenza symptoms include the following:
Coughing: This may be a dry, hacking cough similar to what is found in kennel cough. It may cause your pet discomfort and a sore throat, but otherwise should not create a tremendous amount of damage. The cough usually persists for 10-30 days, depending on the severity of the infection.
Nasal discharge: The nasal discharge is generally clear at first but can turn yellow or green. Medication can be given to your pet to help clear this up. This is one of the more common canine influenza symptoms.
Fever: If your dog is exposed to a canine influenza environment and develops a severe infection, a fever will most likely occur. At times, dogs may have a fever that reaches 106 degrees.
Pneumonia: This is a secondary infection caused by the canine flu. It only occurs in severe cases. Dogs that develop pneumonia may need to be hospitalized. Only 10-20% of dogs infected with the canine influenza virus or the canine flu will contract the more severe form. Thankfully, the mortality rate for canine influenza is low, reaching between 5-8%.
Canine Influenza Diagnosis
You may be able to recognize canine flu symptoms in your pet and make a Canine Influenza diagnosis yourself. However, it is always best to seek an opinion from your veterinarian.
Canine influenza or canine flu can be diagnosed through a nasal swab. However, a blood test is required as well. The blood sample will be sent to an outside laboratory. Results are usually received within 2 weeks.
Having your pet seen by a veterinarian is the only way to accurately and positively diagnose Canine influenza.
Treatment of Canine Influenza
Learn How To Treat Canine Flu
There are no antibiotics that can kill the canine influenza virus. It is up to your pet’s body to do the work and recover. As a result, much of the treatment for the canine flu consists of supportive care designed to strengthen your pet’s immune system and help him recover faster. If your pet has symptoms of canine influenza, you should make sure he receives the following for the best chance at treating Canine Influenza:
Adequate nutrition: The stronger and healthier your pet’s body, the easier it will be to fight the canine influenza virus. Select a high-quality pet food and feed your dog 3-4 small meals per day. You may also want to consider natural supplements, oils or fresh foods to enhance your pet’s current diet and help support his immune system.
Comfortable sleeping arrangements: If your pet has been exposed to a canine influenza environment and has symptoms of canine influenza, your goal should be to make him as comfortable as possible. If you do not already have one, look for a large, soft bed where he can rest. He should be kept in a clean, dry place out of the weather.
Plenty of rest: In order to recover from the canine flu, your pet will need adequate rest and relaxation. As a result, do your best to minimize noise, excitement and other activities. While an occasional walk may be beneficial, do not allow your pet to overdo it on the exercise. This can compromise his body’s ability to fight the infection.
Transmission of Canine Influenza Virus
Learn How Canine Flu Spreads
Canine influenza is an airborne disease and is highly contagious. It can spread like wildfire. If an animal shelter, boarding kennel or other pet facility develops an outbreak, the entire facility will need to temporarily shut down. Once a dog is exposed, he will begin to show symptoms of canine influenza within 2-4 days. It is during this period that he is most contagious, shedding the virus at a prolific rate and infecting nearly every dog he comes in contact with.
Canine flu spreads in several ways:
It’s Airborne: Canine influenza or the canine flu is an airborne disease. This means the virus can travel long distances and for long periods of time on microscopic pieces of dust and debris. These microbes are known as droplet nuclei. Once they are inhaled by an unsuspecting host they began to wreak havoc in the body.
Contact with a contaminated object or infected animal: If a dog drinks out of a bowl, licks a spoon or sniffs a toy that has been in contact with an in infected dog, he can contract canine influenza. The virus can survive for 48 hours on surfaces and for 12 hours on clothing. This is why it is essential that kennel operators, veterinarians and anyone working with pets keep their facilities clean and sanitary. Hands should be washed in between handling animals. Sick animals should be isolated and all surfaces thoroughly disinfected.
Canine Influenza Prevention
How to Prevent Canine Flu?
While sanitizing surfaces and washing hands are all an important part of prevention, the only way to truly prevent canine influenza virus in your home or facility is to purify the air.
PetAirapy has developed a unique, one-of-kind air-purifying unit designed to destroy the harmful microbes that threaten the health of our pet. Our proprietary, commercial grade Ultra Violet Germicidal Irradiation Light (UVGI) air cleaning units have been independently tested and proven effective against pet pathogens. In fact, they can destroy 99.9% of harmful bacteria and viruses—including the canine influenza virus.
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation called UV-C (UVGI) is a sterilization method that uses ultraviolet light at a sufficiently short wave-length (also called “C” band) to break down microorganisms. The UV “C” wavelength is the most powerful method of sanitation and is effective in destroying and inactivating microbes. For many years the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation for sterilization has been used in government buildings, hospitals and laboratories to disinfect the air, water, instruments, operating rooms and work surfaces that are exposed to hazardous biological materials. Now PetAirapy is bringing this specialized technology to the pet industry, empowering pet business owners to protect the health of the animals in their care!
If you want to make sure your boarding facility or veterinarian clinic is adequately protected against the canine flu or other diseases, installing an air-purification unit is the smartest thing you could do. Prevention of canine influenza and kennel cough is the most effective way to protect your livelihood and reputation. After all, if an outbreak occurs—customers will no longer trust you or use your services.
PetAirapy’s units are quickly and easily installed in your facility by a technician allowing safe, powerful and effective, Ultra Violet Germicidal Irradiation Light (UVGI) technology to eliminate and kill bacteria, viruses, mold and odor before they can contaminate the air of your business.
For more information, learn more about professional air-purifying and surface-disinfecting units to control and prevent canine flu and kennel cough.