Dog flu, or the influenza A virus subtype H3N8, was originally an equine flu that was discovered in 2004 when it was believed to have attacked racing greyhounds. Because of the lack of previous exposure to this virus, dogs that are exposed often become infected with the flu. Canine influenza virus (CIV) spreads readily from dog to dog, but there is no evidence that it spreads from dogs to humans. The incubation period is usually two to four days from exposure to onset of clinical signs. Though the morbidity of the flu is high, the mortality is low—most dogs recover from canine influenza within 2-3 weeks.
Canine Influenza Symptoms
Recent estimates indicate that of all dogs that become infected with CIV, 10-20 percent will show no symptoms at all, another 10-20 percent may develop complications, but the remaining 60-80 percent will exhibit only minor symptoms. The mortality rate in the general pet population is 1-5 percent. Symptoms of the mild form include:
- A cough that lasts for 10-30 days
- Possible greenish nasal discharge
- Severe cases include a high fever and pneumonia (which is not caused by the influenza virus, but by secondary bacterial infections).
Canine Influenza Treatment
If you notice flu symptoms from your dog, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to evaluate your pet. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the first canine influenza vaccine. In general, the vaccine is not meant for all dogs, just those “at risk” of exposure—particularly dogs that participate in activities with other dogs or that are housed in communal areas.
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