What is dog flu?
Margarita Mindebaeva/ShutterstockDog flu first surfaced in the United States in 2015, when Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed the state's first outbreak of a highly infectious strain, according to techtimes.com. The virus was thought to have come from birds in China, Thailand, and Korea when dogs exposed caught the disease. The strain is known as H3N2 CIV or the H3N2 canine influenza virus and can also spread to cats, but not humans. If left untreated it can become pneumonia and is not typically fatal. Here's what you need to know about the flu virus.
Symptoms of dog flu
Lindsay Helms/ShutterstockDog flu symptoms include: coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, and possibly labored breathing if the dog develops pneumonia, says Sarah McKenny, an associate veterinarian at Petwell Partners. McKenny cautions that these signs maybe not be solely indicative of the flu. "Coughing and labored breathing can also be symptoms associated with heart disease. It is also possible for a dog to be contagious without any symptoms," said McKenny. If your dog has any of the signs listed above, make an appointment with your vet for a checkup.
Dog flu treatmentTinxi/ShutterstockTreatment is primarily supportive care, because by the time dogs are showing clinical signs of dog flu, antiviral medication is not going to be effective. Supportive care may include intravenous or subcutaneous fluids, cough suppressants, and proper nutrition. According to McKenny, if a dog should acquire secondary pneumonia or bacterial rhinitis, then antibiotics may be warranted. Antibiotics target the bacteria that proliferate in the respiratory tract that has been damaged by the virus, however, antibiotics will have no effect on the virus itself. Dogs that have pneumonia and severely compromised lung function may require oxygen supplementation. If they are sick or have potentially been exposed to the virus, specifically H3N2, they should be isolated for at least 21 days, even if the clinical signs have resolved, so as not to expose other dogs to the virus.
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