Maybe something is going around your office, or everyone at your child’s preschool is sick. In the winter, it is more common for humans to get sick, but did you know that dogs can contract the flu too?

The H3N8 virus, or canine influenza, was discovered several decades ago in horses. Then, in 2004, a ground of greyhounds contracted it. Now, it is common for this strain of the flu to spread to dogs, and it is highly contagious. A newer strain, H3N2, also impacts our canine companions. This is not the same strain of the flu as humans get, so you cannot contract the flu from your pet, or vice versa.

It might be distressing to think about your beloved pet getting sick, but it’s best to learn the symptoms of the flu now so that you can get your dog the help they need as soon as possible. While the flu is very rarely fatal in dogs, you still want to take the threat seriously, as your pup could be quite miserable for weeks.

Symptoms of Dog Flu

Symptoms of canine influenza include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Eye discharge
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy

If your dog is demonstrating any of these symptoms, it’s important to see medical care as quickly as possible. Dog flu presents in a very similar several different infectious respiratory diseases, such as kennel cough. Your vet clinic in Fort Collins can provide testing to confirm whether or not your dog has canine influenza so they receive the best care possible.

How Do Dogs Get the Flu?

Canine influenza is highly contagious, and can be transmitted between pups through objects, such as toys, food/water bowls, leashes, and bedding. It can also be transmitted through nose-to-nose contact. The virus can live on surfaces for up to two days, on clothing for one day, and on hands for 12 hours.

This means that dogs who are at most risk for developing canine influenza are those who spend a lot of time with other dogs, such as those who go to doggy day care, play at dog parks, or are boarded when their owners go away.

Dog Flu Treatments

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that will cure your dog of the flu; the virus has to run its course. Mild cases can last from two weeks up to a month. Most treatments focus on support: making sure they get plenty of fluids and rest, and giving them cough medicine as prescribed by your veterinarian in Fort Collins — do NOT give dogs human medications. If you dog’s case of the flu is severe, they may need to be hospitalized or undergo more intensive therapies. We can help you determine the best course of action at our vet clinic in Fort Collins.

How to Prevent Dog Flu

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If your dog doesn’t have canine influenza, it’s essential to take steps now to prevent them from contracting this contagious disease. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent dog flu:

Stay Home

The best way to prevent contracting dog flu is to avoid contact with other dogs who might have it. Your pup may miss the dog park, but if you are aware of reports of canine flu, it’s important to avoid those areas. If your dog is starting to show symptoms of this virus, it’s best to proceed with caution and not go to doggy daycare. Keep your pet home and away from other dogs until they are well.

Ask Around

If you haven’t heard about canine flu in your area, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not going around. If you have any reason why you absolutely must board your pet, make sure to ask if there have been any recent cases of influenza, and what preventive measures they are taking to stop the virus from spreading.

Wash Your Hands

You can spread canine influenza to your dog if you pet a dog with the virus and then pet your dog. Therefore, make sure you are washing your hands after you touch other furry friends.

Consider Vaccination

Vets now offer vaccinations for both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains. If your dog spends a lot of time around other dogs, it’s worth speaking with your veterinarian to see if this is the best option for your pet.

We would love to talk with you more about what you can do to fight canine flu. If you need to visit a vet clinic in Fort Collins, contact us today!