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Essentials You Need to Get Your Pup Through This Flu Season Safely

The flu season of 2018 will be one to remember. The flu shot was abysmally ineffective, and hospitals were overrun with flu cases. Human beings weren’t the only ones affected. The dog flu was rampant as well.

The dog flu, also known as the Canine influenza virus or CIV, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. First identified in horses nearly 40 years ago, it jumped into the canine population in 2004.  2018 has been a particularly virulent year for CIV. According to the Merck Animal Health website, DogFlu.com, confirmed cases have been reported in 46 states as of February 27, with more than 490 cases in California and Nevada alone.

If you’re worried about your pet during this unusual flu season, you’re not alone. Below are the answers to some of the questions concerned pet owners might have.

What causes CIV?

According to the CDC fact sheet, “Key Facts about Canine Influenza,” dog flu is caused by two specific Type A flu viruses, H3N8 and H3N2.

How do dogs get it?

The dog flu is spread by infected animals, either through direct exposure to unhealthy dogs or through contact with contaminated objects such as toys or bedding. It is most often spread in kennels and at dog parks.

Can you give your dog the flu? Can he give it to you?

Canine influenza and the human form of the illness are caused by very different viruses. Right now, according to the CDC, no human cases of dog flu have ever been reported.  It is also very unlikely that your dog will catch the flu from you.

What are the symptoms of dog flu?

The symptoms of CIV are similar to those of the human flu. These can include a runny nose, a wet cough, fever, unusual eye discharge and lack of appetite.

How do you know if your dog has it?

If your pet has any of the symptoms listed above, the only way to know for sure that it’s the dog flu is to visit your veterinarian. He or she can test your pet for the flu virus.

How can you prevent CIV?

The best way to prevent dog flu is to have your pet vaccinated. Ask your veterinarian whether the vaccine is a good choice for your dog.

What are the treatment options?

Once a dog has the flu, supportive care is recommended. This means keeping him well hydrated and giving him medications to keep him comfortable. If a secondary infection is suspected, your veterinarian will probably prescribe an antibiotic.

How can you get help?

Most dogs recover from the dog flu within two or three weeks. If they develop a secondary infection, however, it can lead to pneumonia and even death. If your pet has signs of canine influenza, talk with your veterinarian. He or she can decide what intervention is appropriate.

If your dog has the flu, is there anything you should do right away? – While waiting for your veterinary appointment, offer your dog plenty of fluids and keep him warm and comfortable. Remember, the dog flu is highly contagious. Keep your pet away from other animals and wash your hands thoroughly after any contact.

While the dog flu is serious, most dogs make a full recovery. With some love and supportive care, your best friend will soon be healthy and happy again.


Disclaimer: Waggit is not a medical professional. Please consult your veterinarian for specific prevention and treatment plans.