French bulldog sleeping in bed

It’s cold and flu season for people, and pets are no different. Did you know that canine influenza is an illness that could affect your pupper this winter? Clairmont Animal Hospital has the info that you need to know about the dog flu and how to protect your pup. 

All About Canine Influenza

Canine influenza is a very contagious viral respiratory disease that affects dogs specifically. Thankfully, humans and dogs don’t share this virus!

We first experienced dog flu in the United States in 2004. Since then, there have been several outbreaks across the country. We are currently aware of two different strains of canine influenza. 

Canine influenza is spread through respiratory secretions. This makes pets who are housed closely together such as at boarding kennels or doggy daycare at higher risk of exposure. Virus particles present on toys, bedding, water bowls, or other surfaces that can serve as a means to spread the disease. 

Symptoms of dog flu may include:

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

Most affected pets have only mild-to-moderate symptoms, with some dogs showing no signs of illness at all. A small percentage of dogs who contract the canine flu, though, can develop pneumonia and may become seriously ill. 

Protection Against the Dog Flu

With canine influenza becoming a more and more common respiratory pathogen for pups, pet owners should definitely take steps to protect their dogs.

Precautions include:

  • Being sure that your pet is up to date on vaccines. Two of the diseases in the distemper combination vaccine and the Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine can help your pet fight off other respiratory infections such as canine flu.
  • Only boarding at facilities that require pets to be vaccinated.
  • Asking about what procedures your boarding facility takes to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
  • Thinking about getting your pet vaccinated against canine influenza. An effective vaccine against both strains of canine influenza is available. 
  • If your pet has been boarded and is showing signs of being ill, do not delay in contacting us right away. Treatment with supportive care may be indicated. 

Even if your dog contracts canine influenza, severe illness is highly unlikely. You might think twice, though, about boarding a pet who has a compromised immune system. This includes geriatric dogs, very young puppies, and those with any type of illness that suppresses the immune system. For these pets, you might consider hiring a pet sitter or revamping more dog-friendly vacation where possible.

Canine influenza is definitely something for pet owners to be aware of, but not cause for excessive concern. We are here to help you keep your pets healthy and safe. Canine influenza may be no fun, but it is something that we can offer protection against.