What is Canine Flu ?
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What is Canine Flu ?

Dogs
Health & Safety

When the weather is so temperamental and one minute it's warm whereas the next it's freezing, it can be hard to know what to wear. Animals too suffer, the hotter weather sees them shedding their coats only for the sun to vanish again which sees wild animals as well as domestic pets feeling rather confused. It's the kind of weather that brings on the snuffles both in people and their pets. However, there are lots of viruses on the move too, one of which is canine flu and this particular virus can strike at any time.

You may not have heard of canine flu but it is a condition that your dog can catch much like humans get the flu bug. It is a similar flu virus to the one seen in horses and other equines which has now crossed over to many breeds of dogs in the country. When it comes to recognising the symptoms, these are pretty easy to spot because dogs with the flu virus show definite and distinct signs of breathlessness. If the condition is left untreated, it can then turn into pneumonia which is a much more serious condition for dogs.

Symptoms of Canine Flu

Although dogs with the flu virus have trouble breathing, there are other signs to watch out for too. This includes a mild cough and you may notice your dog has a runny nose. This could be just the start of a nasty bout of flu which as the condition progresses sees dogs developing a quite high fever.

Typical Symptoms of Canine Flu

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Respiratory infection

If in doubt, it is essential to get your dog along to the vets as soon as you can. This is especially true if you have any other dogs in your home because the virus is highly contagious. Any toys, water dishes, food bowls, shared dog bedding and anything else dogs have come into contact with, could transmit the flu virus to the other dogs in your home. The first thing to do after getting your dog to the vet is to thoroughly wash everything and if this is not possible then consider renewing the items.

What is the Treatment For Canine Flu?

When it comes to treatment, vets will normally put your dog on a course of antibiotics which will help support their immune system. You would need to make sure your dog is drinking plenty of fluids which will help prevent any infection from spreading right through their bodies. Your dog will be feeling very sorry for themselves and should be kept in a nice quiet place away from any other pets you may own.

Canine flu, much like flu seen in humans does not have any specific cure for the virus. However, the virus does pass in time, as long as your dog is given the appropriate course of antibiotics to take. Luckily, the condition although not very nice for dogs to have to go through, is not one that is fatal as long as the correct treatment is sought and the condition does not progress to pneumonia.

Top Tips To Know About Canine Flu

Just like humans, dogs can pick up seasonal viruses but canine flu is one strain that can affect a dog at any time of the year. It only takes one small sneeze or cough to spread this highly contagious flu bug from one dog to another. In the past many greyhounds have suffered from the condition but over the years it has taken hold in many other breeds of dog too, which is why owners need to keep a watchful eye on their pets especially if they socialise a lot with other dogs.

It is thought that wild birds can spread the disease in their droppings so it's always a good idea to keep your dog away from any bird droppings. Unfortunately, dogs being dogs love anything that's a bit smelly so this can sometimes prove to be a little hard.

If you notice your dog has a runny nose, a cough and a slight temperature, do not think the condition will clear up on its own – you must get your pet to the vets as soon as you can so that they can be prescribed a course of antibiotics.

The only way to reduce the risk of your dog from catching the canine flu virus is to do the following:

  • Avoid going for walks in parks where a large number of other dogs are walked
  • Try not to let other dogs play with your pets' toys
  • Make sure any grooming centre you take your dog to is well ventilated and aware of the problems involving canine flu – better still if you need to get your dog groomed, ask the person to visit you at your home and make sure they only use the tools you give them
  • Make sure your dogs' water bowl is always filled with fresh, clean water
  • Always wash your hands before and after you have played or handled your dog

The other thing to bear in mind is that if you have to leave your four legged friend in a boarding kennel for any length of time, then you have to be certain the owners have an infection control routine in place that covers the canine flu virus.

How Long Should You Wait Before Going to Vet?

If you notice that your dog has the above symptoms for two days, then you need to get them to see a vet straight away. They will have lost their appetites and as a result this will make their immune systems even weaker. This in turn could mean the flu virus would really be able to take hold and if untreated as mentioned before, could cause pneumonia.

The vet will do a test which would read positive if your dog has the flu bug. Keeping your dog hydrated is crucial to them recovering from the virus and in certain cases dogs may even be kept in overnight at the vets to make sure they do get enough fluids at a critical time.

Is There a Vaccination?

Yes, there is a vaccination for canine flu and many dogs that are considered high risk are given it. The vaccination involves two injections given to dogs several weeks apart. It is a preventative measure and not a treatment to use on dogs that are already infected with the flu virus.

However, many vets think that dogs who are considered high risk are the only ones that should be vaccinated again the virus, so it is really up to owners to assess whether or not their pets are indeed at risk of being infected and then make the decision on whether to vaccinate them or not. Dog breeds whichhave a squashed up face andbrachycephalicmuzzle are considered the most high risk for catching canine flu, for example English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Pugs. Some boarding kennels do ask for dogs to be vaccinated before accepting to take them in. This is a good preventative measure you need to check out with the kennels should your dog need to go to one.

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