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Dog Flu? What you need to do to help your dog be safe this winter season!

Dog flu is common, especially during winter but it is not exactly a seasonal viral disease. Dog flu is caused the canine influenza virus. This is not the same virus that causes flu in humans. Dog flu can be bacterial too. Also known as kennel cough, dog flu is contagious if it is a viral condition. Like in humans, dog flu is mostly a respiratory ailment and it can spread to other dogs. However, humans do not fall sick by contracting the virus from infected pets or other dogs. Thousands of pets in the country fall sick with dog flu every year. The canine influenza virus can infect dogs of any breed and age, regardless of the vaccines they have been routinely administered.

Keep your Dog Away from Infected Pets

Canine influenza virus can only spread from one dog to another. There can be other animal sources. Canine influenza virus does not survive on its own in our environment. It needs a host and gets spread around through respiratory secretions. It is not necessary for a dog to come in direct contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected dog. The secretions may have a combination of droplets and traces somewhere or be an airborne contagion. Respiratory secretions can be in the form of aerosols. Proximity to infected dogs is the biggest risk factor in case of canine influenza virus.

Choose the Right Vaccine for Dog Flu

Dogs should be vaccinated against the canine influenza virus. However, there are different strains of this virus. Vaccines are not available for every strain so it is possible that your dog would contract the virus and have the flu regardless of the vaccination status. It is still really necessary that you consult with a veterinarian and choose the appropriate vaccines to immunize your pet against specific strains of the virus. This should go hand in hand with keeping your pet away from other dogs. Avoid dog parks at the onset of the flu season. You may even have to be conscious of pets you and your dog are familiar with, such as those in your immediate neighborhood. If you have more than one dog, you may have to be more conscious and proactively watch out for signs or early symptoms. You may still save one of your dogs from the other infected pet if you take swift preventive action and segregate them.

Symptoms and Treatments of Dog Flu

Coughing is the most typical and common symptom of dog flu. It is also referred to as kennel cough. Some dogs infected with the canine influenza virus will have more severe symptoms including sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, irregular breathing including rapid breaths or struggling to breathe, appetite loss and lethargy. Dog flu is not a fatal disease by itself. Timely medical diagnose and treatment can regulate the symptoms, cause them to subside in due course of time and your dog would be hale & hearty soon enough. No intervention would mean facilitating the worsening of the condition and complications can prove to be fatal. Pneumonia is a secondary complication of dog flu. Pets do not die due to dog flu but they can due to pneumonia.

Canine influenza virus can be identified by veterinarians using physical examination and several tests. Dog flu can be treated with antiviral medicines, supportive care, rest, isolation and treating the secondary infections. Nutritious meals are recommended. Some supplements may be prescribed to strengthen the natural immune responses. The dog must be provided enough warmth and a calm setting, ensuring its comfort and immaculate rest at all times. Secondary infections, bacterial or viral among others, are treated with medicines and other remedies. Some dogs may need intravenous fluids for hydration.



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Written by Lisa Quarterman

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