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Is it Flu Season for Dogs, Too?

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The Spirit of Bo, returning to bless, enlighten and spread good cheer and health to all of our faithful readers:

If you haven’t figured it out yet, flu season is in full force. Try as you might, many of you won’t be able to ward it off. But did you know that your dog could contract the flu?

Known as “the dog flu” (or H3N8/canine flu), this virus is a contagious respiratory infection first discovered in 2004 when the virus jumped from horses and infected many breeds of racing dogs. Since that time, 38 states have reported infected dogs. And this season, the canine flu tends to be gaining some momentum.

Dogs do not possess any natural immunity to this virus and it can be easily transmitted between dogs. An infected dog can pass it along to another dog by simply sneezing or panting.

If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, he might be experiencing canine influenza:

Runny nose
Lack of appetite
Respiratory infection

A cough of this nature can mimic a kennel cough, which is dry, but it can also result in a moist cough that can last anywhere from seven up to 30 days.

If you suspect your dog has the flu and has a cough that lasts longer than two days, and has a combination of other symptoms such as nasal discharge, labored breathing, lethargy and decreased appetite, you should get him to the veterinarian right away. Your vet can then test to see if your dog actually has the canine flu and can then prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.

Typically speaking, most cases are mild and usually just involve supportive care. You can make your pet comfortable and encourage fluids and he may even be treated with antibiotics to protect against any secondary infections.

With a more severe case where the dog shows signs of a fever or pneumonia, he may have to be hospitalized.

The best way to protect your dog is to keep him away from infected dogs. If you as the owner are exposed to dogs or facilities with infected dogs, be sure to disinfect all clothing, surfaces and hands before touching your uninfected dog.

If you are interested in getting a flu shot for your dog, there is a H3N8 vaccination that can protect against certain strains of the dog flu. Just like the flu shot you may get, this is a preventative measure only and does not protect a dog once he is infected.

Thanks to for this helpful information.


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