The New Dog Flu, Signs, Symptoms & Precautions
Tags: Dogs, Puppies, Information, Dog Flu, Bird Flu
The New Dog Flu – Signs, Symptoms & Precautions
While the Bird Flu is making many headlines lately, the dog flu (canine influenza) is something we also need to keep an eye on. The dog flu is extremely contagious as it only takes a cough to make it airborne and affect other dogs. This mysterious strain of the flu was first recognized just a year ago when it swept greyhound racetracks across the country and has been identified as H3N8, a strain common to horses. Since then it has been introduced to the pet population and has been concerning veterinarians across the country. It is still a mystery how the dog flu crossed over to canines but it wasn't surprising. Influenza mutates continuously and has the ability to adapt to a large variety of animals.
Understanding the Flu
The dog flu is somewhat avoidable if you understand the transmission process of the flu between birds and animals. Most wild birds do not get ill from the various flu viruses they host in their intestines. Transmission most easily occurs when they their droppings come into contact with other animals. Be sure your dog doesn’t get into these little mine piles as they can either get ill, or carry a disease that may infect other animals, or even you.
Dog Flu Symptoms
So far dog flu causes death in only 5% of pets and it is usually immature puppies or dogs that are already struggling with an illness. Because the disease is just emerging, dogs have not had the chance to build immunity to the virus and thus will certainly become sick, however most cases are mild in nature. Symptoms manifest as a persistent cough and sometimes accompanied by a running nose. Recovery takes between 10 and 30 days. More severe cases show signs of high fever and pneumonia.
Precautions to Take to Avoid Dog Flu
Try to keep away from congested dog parks as the dog flu will be most prevalent where there is a high concentration of dogs. If and when you do go to dog parks, make sure you don’t share others toys with your dog and likewise with them and make sure your dog gets fresh water in his own bowl. Upon leaving, wash your hands thoroughly. You can also wipe your dog’s paws with Nolvasan – you can find it at your vet’s office.
When taking your pet to doggy day cares, boarding kennels and grooming centers, be sure they are sufficiently ventilated and have good infection-control practices. Ask them what procedures they use when they find dogs with respiratory illnesses, whether they have a veterinarian on call, and how they notify owners of the pets.
Another note: although dogs have never been known to be of ill-health by the deadly H5N1 bird flu, it isn’t impossible for them to transmit it to other mammals.
Treatment and Medicine for Dog Flu
If your dog does in fact have a serious case of the dog flu, treatment by your vet may include IV fluids that have a broad spectrum of antibiotics and possibly oxygen support if necessary, usually in the case of a secondary infection like pneumonia. Some vets have also been known to prescribe Tamiflu, a human anti-viral medication.
Dog Flu Conclusion
In general, be sure to disinfect regularly to keep your home as free as possible of any viruses that may harm anyone. Always wash your hands and your dogs paws and keep equipment, floors and surfaces clean.
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