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Canine Influenza Virus: Should You Worry?

 Chris Cole 

If you read articles from any news outlet, you've probably come across some alarming headlines about the flu epidemic, in both dogs and humans, as well as other animals. Here's exactly what you need to know about canine influenza virus, without the hype.

What Is Canine Influenza Virus?

There are two strains of canine influenza virus. The first, H3N8, originated in Chicago, once only affecting horses. The virus mutated and spread the racing greyhounds that shared the tracks with the horses. The H3N2 strain originated in Asian countries, and may be a mutated form of avian (bird) flu. Both cause similar symptoms, and neither can be spread to humans.

Symptoms of Canine Influenza Virus

If your dog has canine influenza, you'll likely notice respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, coughing and sneezing. Your dog may also have a decreased appetite, and may be lethargic. Some dogs contract the virus but show no symptoms, though they can still spread the virus to other dogs.symptoms of canine influenza virus
Lack of energy and refusing to eat are critical signs that your dog is not well.The above symptoms are indicative of many canine illnesses, so it's best to visit your veterinarian to have your dog tested for canine influenza, and to rule out other causes. The flu can result in pneumonia. Very few dogs die of the flu, though it's best to talk to your veterinarian about the best course of treatment to help your dog recover quickly and to avoid spreading the virus. It typically takes 2-3 weeks for dogs to make a full recovery.

Does Your Dog Need A Flu Shot?

In January 2018, approximately 100 dogs have been affected by canine influenza in the United States. The virus has not reportedly entered the UK. Considering that the virus is not particularly widespread or dangerous, it is not necessary to vaccinate your dog.As a dog owner, it's up to you to make informed decisions about your dog's health. Vaccinations can sometimes cause side effects, but they're worthwhile to protect your dog against potentially fatal disease, as well as to help prevent illnesses from becoming widespread in your region. Your dog should be up to date on their rabies, parvovirus and bordetella shots. To minimize the number of vaccines your dog has, you can request a titer test to check your dog's immunity against diseases for which they have already been vaccinated.

How Infections Spread From Dog To Dog

Canine influenza spreads between dogs in close quarters, such as those in boarding kennels and rescue centres. The flu virus is airborne, and can live on surfaces near which affected dogs sneeze and cough.Many canine infections are spread when dogs share toys, water bowls and grooming supplies, or when they play together. If your dog ever goes to the dog park, groomer or kennel, you should be extra vigilant about supplying their own bowls and toys, and keeping their shots up to date.Young puppies that have not yet been vaccinated, as well as seniors that may have a compromised immune system, should be kept away from areas that can harbor the flu virus and other canine infections.[caption id="attachment_2090" align="alignnone" width="499"]Dogs can spread dog flu by sharing toys.
Dogs can transmit infections through saliva when they share toys. Avoid playdates if your dog is unvaccinated or has a weak immune system.You may not be able to prevent every illness your dog comes in contact with, but you can be sure they are healthy so that they are best able to fight off any disease that they may contract. Keep your dog at a healthy weight and support their immune system with plenty of fresh foods, a balanced diet and exercise.
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