More canine influenza cases are being reported as the latest bout spreads across the country. But, isn’t this a simple canine cold? Canine influenza can be fatal in a small percentage of severe cases, usually because a secondary infection like pneumonia has developed. Here are three facts you need to know to keep your dog safe from canine influenza:
#1: Some dogs are at greater risk
If your pet is at risk for contracting kennel cough, she is also susceptible to canine influenza infection. Dogs vaccinated against kennel cough should also be vaccinated against canine influenza, since the diseases travel in similar circles. Dogs at a higher risk for exposure spend time in the following places:
- Dog parks
- Training classes
- Pet stores
- Boarding facilities
- Day care
- Dog shows
- Grooming salons
Any place that has large gatherings of dogs is an excellent breeding ground and transmission source for canine influenza.
#2: Canine influenza is highly contagious
Similar to the human flu virus in schools, the dog flu can spread through closely housed dogs like wildfire. It can be spread in three ways—air transmission, direct contact, or fomite transmission. A cough or sneeze can shoot germs 20 feet through the air and infect a wide radius. Direct contact occurs when an infected dog touches a healthy dog, either through grooming, licking, or nuzzling. Indirect contact, or fomite transmission, is caused by contact with contaminated objects, such as bowls, bedding, leashes, or toys. People can also carry virus particles on their clothing and infect other dogs.
#3: Canine influenza appears similar to kennel cough
While both diseases are known for an impressive cough, canine influenza is often more severe. If your dog is infected with canine influenza, you may notice the following signs:
- Intense cough
- Eye discharge
- Nasal discharge
- Reduced appetite
Dogs afflicted with kennel cough are usually still active and have a normal appetite, unless they’ve been infected with a nasty bacterial or viral strain. Dogs suffering from a severe canine influenza virus may develop a high fever and pneumonia.
If you are planning on enjoying the dog park, signing up for an agility class, or enrolling in doggy day care, schedule your pooch’s canine influenza vaccination along with her Bordetella vaccination to ensure she’s protected from any upper respiratory infection.