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Canine Influenza Virus: Pet Owners’ Guide Most healthy dogs will recover in 2-3 weeks with proper care

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Pets

Published on May 20, 2015 with No Comments

While this virus is contagious, you can lower your pet’s risk of illness by understanding how the flu spreads and common signs of the disease.

The recent canine influenza outbreak that affected Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana earlier this year has worried many pet owners. While this virus is contagious, you can lower your pet’s risk of illness by understanding how the flu spreads and common signs of the disease.

The Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is very contagious and is spread through direct contact with a sick dog, contaminated objects like kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and by people who have been in recent contact with a sick dog. This means that dogs at boarding or day care facilities, grooming facilities, or dog parks are at highest risk of coming in contact with the virus.

CIV causes upper respiratory signs such as a persistent cough and thick nasal discharge. Pets may also have a fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and decreased appetite. A dog usually starts to show these signs within 2-4 days of exposure to the virus.

If your dog is showing any of these signs, contact your veterinarian to discuss the symptoms and treatment options. Most healthy dogs will recover in 2-3 weeks with proper at-home care and treatment. Dogs that die from this disease are usually very young, very old, or immune compromised, making them susceptible to pneumonia, which can lead to death. For severely sick animals, appropriate fluids, nutrition, and oxygen support will be provided in a veterinary hospital. While antibiotics will not be effective in preventing or fighting a virus, they may be used to treat or prevent a secondary bacterial infection in the lungs.

Sick dogs (and their owners) need to be isolated from other dogs to avoid spreading the disease. As mentioned previously, people can spread the virus to healthy dogs through their skin or clothing. Cleanliness and sanitation of kennels and other dog-related items is a must! The virus doesn’t live on exposed, dry surfaces for longer than 48 hours and can be killed with most disinfectants.  Fortunately, the Canine Influenza Virus does not affect humans or cats.

A vaccine is available; however, the current vaccine strain is not the same strain circulating though the dog population. While this may not prevent infection, it appears to reduce the length of time an animal is sick and lessens the severity of illness. It may also reduce the time the sick dog is contagious, which may protect other healthy dogs. At this time, we recommend the vaccine to dogs which are at highest risk for coming into contact with other sick dogs at boarding facilities, daycares, groomers, dog parks or other high dog traffic areas. The vaccine requires two boosters given three weeks apart.

If your dog is healthy and will spend time at a boarding or grooming facility in the near future, contact the facility to ensure that they are taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of this virus. Limit your trips to dog parks or other dog friendly areas until it appears that the circulation of the virus has decreased significantly.

For more information, articles, and updates, search “Canine Influenza” on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website at avma.org.

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Dr. Mallorie Barenie is a 2014 graduate from Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. She joined Ark of the Dunes Animal Hospital in July 2014, located at 135 E. 1100 N., in Chesterton in, and has enjoyed working with the clients and their pets. For more information call 219-926-9797 or, visit www.arkofthe dunesah.com

 

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