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Dog flu

Dog flu, canine influenza causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

What is dog flu? Dog flu, or canine influenza, is a condition caused by a virus.

This is a virus to which dogs have no history of contact and therefore no immunity. This is the reason why dogs are highly susceptible to it. This virus has been seen to be endemic in certain regions of the world.

Due to its highly contagious nature, proper precautions should be taken if one of several animals falls prey to this virus.

Though this condition has a high morbidity rate, mortality is comparatively much lower. The last documented epidemic of dog flu occurred in the year 2004 and at that time, almost eighty percent of the dogs that were infected, showed mild symptoms of the disease.

The mortality rate in that outbreak was only 8 percent. However, this mortality rate was because of the spread of the disease in epidemic proportions. In normal situations, the mortality rate would be less than one percent.

Dog flu is caused due to dog flu virus, the H3N8 virus which is a variety of the influenza virus A. The H3N8 virus is largely an equine virus but can affect canines too.

Dog flu symptoms can be mild to severe depending upon the extent of the infection. Following are the various dog flu symptoms.

  • The influenza usually begins with a bout of kennel cough which may last for about thirty days.
  • There is often a greenish discharge from the nose.
  • Dogs may experience fever and pneumonia if the virus has spread in the body.
  • Vasculitis, another disorder that could occur due to this influenza, can be observed too.


Diagnosis and Treatment

If your dog has already been vaccinated for kennel cough, then the veterinarian checks for an infection in the upper respiratory tract. Presence of infection in that region is one of the first signs of influenza. The dog exhibits symptoms of dog cold flu. To check for the presence of canine influenza, the doctor may also ask for a blood serum sample on which various tests are conducted.

Though the influenza virus causing dog flu is not very dangerous, it reduces the dog’s immunity to a large extent, making it susceptible to other secondary bacterial infections. The virus that causes dog flu can be easily controlled using commonly available over-the counter-disinfectants. However, if in case, a secondary infection has developed, antibiotics may be prescribed by the veterinarian. Till date, doctors have been trying to find a vaccination for the flu but haven’t been successful at it.

  Submitted on June 1, 2010  

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