Vet examining greyhound with stethoscope on table in veterinary surgeryWhat is Canine Influenza?  Canine Influenza is what we consider the Dog version of the Flu.  Yes, dogs can get the flu too! It is a viral ailment and can often be mistaken for Kennel Cough amongst dogs as the symptoms may appear to mimic each other.  All dogs are susceptible to contracting Canine Influenza.  It is seen quite often in environments where the dogs are kept in extremely close environments.  Animal shelters, boarding facilities, doggie day cares and rescues are great examples of environments where contagious illnesses can spread like wild fire.


How does a dog contract the flu?


In order for a dog to acquire this virus, they would have to come in contact with respiratory secretions from an infected pooch.  Sneezing, licking another dog’s mouth, nasal drippings all can spread the virus.  While the virus does not last in an airborne state for long, most contact would occur when the dogs are close to one another, say within range of a sneeze.


How can we stop the spread of Canine Influenza?


To keep the virus at bay, it is very important for us humans to constantly wash our hands after interacting with a pet, and keep an infected pet isolated from all other dogs.  You should also really exercise caution when placing your dog in an environment where he’ll be in constant close proximity with other dogs – especially if they’re dogs you do not know.


If you suspect your dog has contracted Canine Influenza, it is extremely important that you get him in to see the Vet immediately.  While this is considered to be the flu, if not treated and addressed promptly, it can lead to fatal consequences.  Normally pneumonia or a secondary bacterial virus will take advantage of your dogs weakened state and the secondary issues are what can lead to death if not treated.    Do you know what signs to look for?


Signs to watch for are: 

  • Nasal discharge
  • Tired / Lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing irregularities

Since this is similar to a human flu, there are no known medications to treat this virus.  Your dog just has to ride it out which can be a lengthy and arduous process.  In fact, it can take between ten to thirty days for your dog to recover from the flu.


What can I do?


It’s always hard to see our dogs suffer.  They are our babies and it breaks our hearts when we have to sit back for any length of time and wait.  It’s a helpless feeling but there are a few things you can do.


It is important that you:


  • keep your dog warm and cozy
  • keep your dog well hydrated
  • provide your dog with excellent meals and nutrition
  • keep on top of any secondary infections by staying in close contact with the vet
  • Provide your dog with an environment that promotes rest and no stress

Most importantly, stay calm and always remain patient with your dog.  After all, he’s quite intuitive you know?  He gets his clues from you and if you’re stressed, he will be too.


Dawn the Pet Nanny is located in Horsham, PA and offers professional dog walking and pet sitting services.