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Canine Influenza

Canine influenza or dog flu, orginated in horses before developing into a form that infected dogs; the first case of canine influenza was confirmed in a racing greyhousein 2004. It is a contagious respiratory illness that can be spread between dogs but cannot affect humans or other animals. 

Cause

Canine Influenza is caused by a train of the influenza virus called H3N8. It is a mutation from the equine influenza virus. Due to its contagious nature, Canine influenza is of primary concern for dogs housed in large groups, such as those in bredding facilites and shelters.

Symptoms

The mortality rate of canine influenza is extremly low; less than one percent of infected dogs die from the virus. In fact, almost half of all dogs that contract the virus fight it offon their own as their immune systems create antibodies. 

  • Dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Secondary pneumonia

Incases with pneumonia, canine influenza can prove fatal. Dogs with pre-existing lung or heart issues are at the highest risk for pneumonia.

Treatment

If caught and treated early, prognosis for canine influenza is very good. Supportive therapy will be given, includin IV fluids, electrolyte replacement, diuretic drugs and antibodies. Some cases may only require a mild cough suppressant. Other symptoms or secondary infections will be treated as necessary.

Prevention

There is a vaccine against canine influenza. Altough the vaccine doesn't entirely prevent a dog from catching the virus, it will significantly lessen the symptoms and shorten the time a dog suffer from the virus's effects. The vaccine can also help prevent the spread of canine influenza by reducing viral shedding. Generally, the dog flu vaccine is not inluded in the core vaccination series, but it may be administered to dogs at a high risk. Dogs should recieve the entire series of vaccinations at least a full week before entering a high-risk enviroment like a boarding facility or kennel. It may also be given to a dog who commonly goes to the groomer, attends group training classes or regularly visit dog parks or doggie daycares.