WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
20% of dogs who contract the canine flu won’t show any symptoms. Some dogs are more severely affected and exhibit clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever (104 to 106 degrees) and increased respiratory rate and effort. Although most dogs recover without incident, deaths due to the Canine Flu have been reported.
Most dogs exhibit a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days, despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants, and typically fully recover within 2-3 weeks. There are no antibiotics that can kill the Canine Influenza virus. It is up to the dog’s body to do the work and recover. As a result, much of the treatment for Canine Flu consists of supportive care designed to strengthen the immune system and help your pet recover faster. However, antibiotics will be used to treat dogs who contract a secondary infection or show signs of yellow/green nasal discharge, or extreme coughing, indicating pneumonia which can potentially be life-threatening.
The Canine Flu has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with the Canine Flu may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious during the 1-5 day incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing signs of illness.
HOW DOGS AND CATS CONTRACT THE CANINE FLU:
Once contact is made with a carrier, it is almost certain the virus will transfer. Dog Flu can pass from dog to dog or dog to cat through direct physical contact or from virus particles in the air due to a cough, sneeze, panting or shedding fur. It can also be spread through objects that were touched by infected dogs, like toys, water bowls, leashes/harnesses and bedding. This makes ongoing proper disinfection imperative.
DIAGNOSIS AT THE VET:
The canine flu cannot be diagnosed solely by clinical signs (coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge), because these symptoms are present with other canine respiratory illnesses like bordatella (kennel cough). Your vet must perform specific tests aimed to confirm Canine Influenza.
ISOLATION AND RECOVERY:
During illness and recovery, ALL dogs and cats within the household should be isolated and quarantined for 4+ weeks, preferably in an area with a separate air supply. It is imperative during that 4+ weeks to keep ALL of your household pets away from public activities where other dogs or cats are present, to avoid infecting other animals.