Due to the recent reports of Canine Influenza popping up in our area again, we felt everyone needed a refresher on this virus. You will see how closely it reminds you of COVID-19.
- Canine influenza-new influenza strain-was first reported in January 2004 at a Florida greyhound track.
- The virus was first identified in the pet population in spring 2005 when the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine isolated and identified a strain of the influenza virus as a cause of a serious respiratory illness in dogs in shelters, humane societies, boarding facilities, and veterinary hospitals in that state.
- This virus, belonging to the influenza A family, is a mutated strain of an equine influenza virus that has been detected in horses for over 40 years.
Signs and Virulence
- Canine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease, very much like COVID-19, that may mirror signs of kennel cough, including sneezing, coughing, and fever. It requires veterinary medical attention.
- Nearly 100 percent of dogs that come in contact with the virus become infected, regardless of age or vaccination history. Of those infected, 20 percent show no signs of disease.
- Of the 80 percent that exhibit signs, two forms have been observed:
- Mild infection. Symptoms include a low-grade fever, nasal discharge, and a persistent cough that could last up to three weeks.
- Severe infection. Symptoms include a high fever, increased respiratory rates with difficulty breathing, and other indications of pneumonia.
- Contact us if you believe your dog may have contracted canine influenza. We are best qualified and equipped to make a diagnosis and to provide advice for caring for any symptom-free dogs you may have in your household.
- Although most dogs will recover from this virus without any treatment, dogs exhibiting symptoms of a mild infection can be treated with antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections.
- Others with a more severe form of the virus require the same treatment as humans with influenza: fluids and rest, and more severe cases requiring intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Treatment for this population has been successful in about 95 percent of the cases.
Spread of the Virus
- Canine influenza is thought to be a mainly airborne virus, most likely transmitted by an infected dog sneezing or coughing on another.
- Symptoms generally appear two to five days after a dog is exposed to the virus.
- Infected dogs have the ability to spread the virus for seven to ten days from the onset of symptoms.
- Much the same as human influenza and COVID-19, this virus can be spread through direct contact with a contaminated surface.
- Infected dogs may not exhibit signs of infection, but are still able to spread the virus.
- What you learned about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can translate to how to protect your dog. As with any other potentially communicable disease, exercising a few common-sense precautions can help to prevent the spread of canine influenza:
- Vaccinate your dog.
- Avoid kennels, grooming facilities, and dog parks if possible for right now.
- Contact facilities in advance to ask about any recent occurrences of respiratory illnesses in dogs.
- Inquire about steps pet facility operators take to isolate any apparent cases of illness.
- If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of canine influenza, contact us immediately.
- If your pet has a respiratory infection or has recently recovered from one, limit its contact with other dogs for a couple of weeks, allowing for complete recovery and reducing the likelihood of transmission.
- Assume that the more exposure your dog has to other dogs, the greater the chance of becoming infected.
Transmission to Humans
- There is no evidence of canine influenza spreading to humans.
- The equine strain of influenza has been in horses for over 40 years without any reported human infection.
The Bottom Line
The important thing is that people not panic over this. We have many vaccinated dogs in our area this time unlike in 2017.