Canines and humans are suffering together this year with the strains of both the dog flu and human flu being passed around in one of the worst years that experts have seen lately. There have been reports of the virus spreading from Canada to almost every U.S. state. While the dog flu cannot be passed to humans, there is a ten percent mortality risk if the symptoms aren’t recognized and treated. Young and old dogs are especially susceptible to the flu.
One reason that influenza spreads so quickly from dog to dog is that the virus is so quick to adapt and produce new strains that can infect different species. Actually, both strains of the flu that have been identified in the U.S. have been traced to other strains that originally didn’t infect dogs.
The flu is very easily spread by dogs coughing, barking and sneezing. Places such as kennels, groomers, day care facilities and shelters are locations that are at an increased risk of infection for pets because the dogs are in such close quarters to each other. The flu can also be spread from objects that dogs use or touch, such as kennels, food, water bowls, toys, collars and leashes, or other people that have been around or touched infected dogs.
A cough is the most common sign that a dog might be suffering from the flu. The cough can last up to 20 or so days, even with an antibiotic and cough suppressants. Dogs may also show nasal and/or eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy and loss of appetite. Some dogs may be unfortunate enough to develop a fever, and in some cases, the flu can strengthen and be upgraded to pneumonia.
You might think that it’s easy to diagnose a dog just by hearing them cough, but it’s still very important to take them to the vet to get an official diagnosis. They will know the best treatment or antibiotic for a pet who is feeling under the weather. Two to three weeks of TLC will have a pet back to their old self, but they will still need to be kept away from the places where there are other animals for about a month, not only for their health but for the other animals, too.