As flu season closes in upon us humans, perhaps you’ve stopped to wonder if your dog, too, can catch the flu. While not in the same form, the answer is yes. They can catch dog flu, or Canine Influenza, a contagious disease that affects a dog’s respiratory system.
The Canine Influenza virus is caused by two main, widespread strains that are known to infect dogs – H3N8 and H3N2. Fortunately, these viruses have never been proven to be transmissible to humans, but it’s best to err on the side of caution when caring for your sick pup. You’ll still want to take care to disinfect your home, and wash your hands, especially if you have other pets in your house so that you don’t transfer the virus.
So, how exactly do you know if your dog has been infected with Canine Influenza? Here’s what you should watch out for:
- Loss in Appetite – A change in appetite is often the first sign of illness. If you start to notice any changes to their eating habits, look for other signs and symptoms straight away.
- Coughing – If you’ve recently taken your dog for a stay at a kennel or daycare, and they come back with a cough, they may have caught Canine Influenza. Unfortunately, dog flu can sound very similar to kennel cough, but the treatments are quite different. For this reason, it’s important to protect your dog from both, especially if they’re going to be spending time around other dogs. Ask your vet about getting your pet vaccinated.
- Sluggishness – While some dogs are naturally lethargic, it can also be a sign of illness. If your dog seems more sleepy than normal and is exhibiting other signs of the flu, like a sudden disinterest in things that might normally get them excited, then a visit to your vet may be in order.
- Runny Nose – Normally, a dog’s runny nose is nothing to worry about. But, if they are showing signs of other symptoms, like congestion and mucus, it’s important to take note.
- Dry Nose – While you’re checking your dog’s nose to see if it’s unusually or excessively runny, also check to see if their nose is dry. Dryness can be an indication of fever.
- Fever – If you have a thermometer, a dog’s temperature normally runs between 99.5 and 102.5F degrees. If you don’t have a way to accurately read a fever, feel their ears and paws. If they feel hot, your dog has a fever.
- Sneezing – If your pup starts to having sneezing fits, it could be a sign of the flu, as their airways and nasal lining become inflamed.
- Eye Discharge – If your dog develops an excessive discharge in their eyes, look for any possible irritants as well as for other flu-like symptoms.
- Wheezing – Often, dogs might not experience or show signs of the full range of influenza symptoms, but they can still be infected. So, it’s important to pay close attention to signs of the illness’ progression, because just like with humans, they can develop pneumonia. If you start to hear wheezing, take them to your vet right away.
- Difficulty Breathing – Increased respiratory rate and difficulty breathing can also be symptoms of pneumonia and a result of the flu’s progression into your dog’s lungs.
If your dog starts to show any of these signs, take them to your vet right away. They will help you and your canine companion find the best treatment so that your little buddy is back up and healthy in no time.