Tag Archives: dog flu
Is your dog having congestion? A persistent cough despite the antibiotics you gave, and exerting extra effort to breathe? Perhaps, it has contracted the canine influenza virus.
Canine influenza is a highly contagious airborne disease, which is said to be associated with the same strain that affects horses. Reports have it that after a dog race held at a Florida horse racing tracks in January 2004, an incident happened where an influenza A virus, subtype H3N8, which has infected horses for more than four decades, was found to have mutated and created a new strain that claimed the lives of Greyhound race dogs.
Since that first outbreak, reports of respiratory ailment among racing and shelter dogs have spread and detected in 30 states of the US and in the District of Columbia. There is no reported evidence that the disease has spread in other countries, though.
All dogs exposed to the virus are certain to contract the canine influenza virus, 80 percent of which may develop clinical signs, while the rest may not come down with the disease at all. The canine influenza virus is easily passed on from one dog to another through their respiratory secretions. Although there is no proof that the virus can infect humans and other species, like cats and birds, humans can be its potential carrier, passing it to another dog through their hands and clothing.
There are two general clinical syndromes infected dogs may come down with, namely, the milder syndrome, and the acute pneumonia syndrome.
After exposure to the virus followed by two to five days of incubation period, infected dogs usually exhibit mild and low grade fever with a rectal temperature of 102.5 to 103.5°F accompanied by soft, moist or dry cough that could go on for ten days, or even longer, without relief from antibiotics and cough medications. They would also produce bad-smelling yellow nasal discharges that correspond to secondary bacterial infection, and; most often they lose their energy and appetite. These symptoms are particular to the milder syndrome.
These symptoms may step up to a higher level, and more serious form of infections can occur when the infected dogs’ fever soar between 104 to 106°F, accompanied by viral and bacterial pneumonia. The dog may also exhibit rapid and difficult breathing patterns, and a coagulation of its lung lobes.
Despite these severe conditions, however, statistics record a death rate for canine influenza between 1 to 5 percent only. Besides, infected dogs rarely suffer beyond the milder syndrome.
In June 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture disclosed its issuance of a conditional license to Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health for the first canine influenza virus vaccine it produced. The vaccine, which is made from killed virus, is meant to control or decrease the clinical signs and severity of the disease related to canine influenza A virus, subtype H3N8. This vaccine, though, has not been proven to prevent infections.
Since canine influenza is a new type of ailment, dogs have not established natural immunity to it yet; therefore, pet owners should be very careful in taking them to places where dogs usually gather together, such as dog parks, training facilities or kennels because they might be exposed to the risk of catching the virus.
As a general rule, it is most recommended to bring your pet dog to the veterinarian when it starts to exhibit symptoms of ailment, so proper treatment can be administered. It is also important to isolate sick dog from the rest of the pets to avoid contact with its respiratory secretions, and, in addition, water should be readily available close to where your sick dog rests, because, just like humans, sick dogs, too, need to drink plenty of water to wash their flu away.