Dog Flu - Canine Influenza Virus

Canine influenza or the dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by a specific Type A influenza virus, the A H3N8. It is a dog virus (not a human virus) and spreads quite easily from dog to dog. It is not contagious from dogs to people.


The disease was first recognized in 2004 when an unknown respiratory illness began to spread among greyhound dogs in Florida, that were sharing racetracks with horses. Scientists believe the horse flu or the H3N8 equine influenza virus, jumped from horses to dogs. The virus then mutated and adapted to canines causing dog illness and spreading from one dog to another. So always be sure to seek advice from your veterinarian when your Schnauzer shows signs of sickness.

Canine Flu Symptoms

Symptoms of the dog flu are similar to human flu-like symptoms including a cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, and decreased appetite. Symptoms usually last for several days to 3 weeks. In more serious cases, an infected dog could develop pneumonia which could be fatal if the dog does not receive proper treatment.

Symptoms:

  • cough
  • runny nose or nasal discharge
  • fever
  • lethargy
  • decreased appetite

What are the chances my Mini Schnauzer could get the dog flu?

All dogs are thought to be at risk from this highly contagious disease because they have no natural immunity to it. It is however, mostly found where a large number of dogs are housed and/or confined like: dog rescues, animal shelters, boarding clinics, and pet stores. Just one sick dog can bring the canine influenza virus (CIV) into an environment and infect an entire shelter or kennel.

Because CIV is so contagious, you should be aware that it can easily be transmitted from dog to dog any place dogs socialize. This includes parks, agility events, doggy daycare, dog training schools, dog grooming salons, dog shows, and so on.

How does dog flu spread?

  1. direct physical contact of a sick dog
  2. contact of contaminated surfaces
  3. inhaling airborne virus particles

The virus can be spread in one of 3 ways: 1) through direct physical contact of dog to dog, 2) by dogs sharing the same food and water bowls or playing with the same toys and 3) by breathing in virus particles released in the air from an infected dog coughing and sneezing. It is important to keep sick dogs isolated from other dogs until the threat of spreading the virus is gone.


Canine Flu Prevention

Luckily we now have an effective vaccine to help control the spread of dog flu. The dog flu shot, called Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8, was approved by the USDA (United State Department of Agriculture) as the first canine influenza vaccine.

fog flu shot

It has been clinically proven to significantly reduce the severity of canine influenza and the length of time a dog is sick. It is not a core vaccine, but is being recommended as an annual vaccination for high risk dogs. Your veterinarian will advise you on whether or not your dog should be vaccinated.

If you choose not to vaccinate your dog (since dog vaccines have risks of their own) you can help your Miniature Schnauzer from getting sick by keeping his immune system as strong as possible. You can do this by providing your dog with daily exercise, clean filtered water, healthy natural foods, and perhaps adding nutritional supplements to his diet, as well.

Read over our dog detox program for other ways to keep your dog's immune system strong and your Miniature Schnauzer healthy.

Canine Influenza Treatment

Dogs infected with CIV need lots of rest, plenty of fluids, and should be isolated from other dogs while the virus runs its course. The canine influenza vaccine is more for preventing a severe illness to a dog exposed to the virus. It is not a treatment. Your veterinarian will send you home with a list of instructions for taking care of your dog. If symptoms persist or worsen anytime at home, contact your veterinarian again as some dogs develop more serious symptoms may require hospitalization for supportive care.

Final thoughts: If you have a dog showing any signs of respiratory illness please contact your veterinarian immediately, for an exam and proper diagnosis. In the meantime, do not take your dog out to parks or other facilities where other dogs would be exposed to the virus. And if you have other dogs at home, keep your sick dog isolated from them.

Also, be sure to keep clean and disinfect all your dogs toys, food and water bowls, and any other equipment or surfaces that may have been contaminated. And of course, always wash your hands after caring for your sick dog to reduce the chances of transmitting the virus between dogs or to other household objects.

Watch video as Dr. Tony Kremer explains about the virus:

"Knowledge Share"... If you found this article on canine influenza helpful and informative, please share it with your dog-loving friends by clicking on one of the share links (like facebook, twitter, and google +1) located at the top right or bottom of this page.

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