Canine Influenza has come to Canada for the first time. So far, there have been seven confirmed cases of 'Dog flu' in Ontario.
This easily-spread disease affects dogs of all breeds and ages. Canine Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that originated in horses. Since being originally reported in Asian countries in 2006, it has since spread to parts of North America, with major outbreaks affecting areas of the U.S. in 2017.
Thankfully, there is no evidence that this disease can spread to humans. However, it is still very important to keep your dog protected, and also to stay informed so you can recognize symptoms that may require veterinary care.
Signs and Symptoms of Canine Influenza
There are many signs of Dog flu. Common symptoms include coughing, runny nose, lethargy, fever, eye discharge, and reduction in appetite. For some dogs, symptoms may be so mild as to be undetectable. Unfortunately, for others it may develop into pneumonia. According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, it can even be fatal in an estimated ten percent of cases.
Every dog handles this illness differently. Fortunately, however, a majority of canines inflicted with this illness will make a full recovery within two to three weeks. If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How Does Canine Influenza Spread?
This is a respiratory virus, so it will spread to dogs that have been in close proximity to an infected canine. It can also spread when your pet comes in contact with an infected item; anything from a toy found at the park, to a branch that an infected dog has chewed, coughed, or sneezed on. The Dog flu virus can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours if untreated. If your dog is showing any of the signs of infection, wash your clothes and hands immediately and keep your pet segregated from other dogs until they recover.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog Has Canine Influenza?
If you suspect that your dog may have canine influenza, first wash down any areas that your pet may have come in contact with. This includes coffee tables, toys, and even your own hands. Next, schedule an appointment to see your veterinarian immediately, and explain your pet’s symptoms over the phone. Your vet may wish to see your pet after hours, when other dogs are not present in the office. Your vet will be able to recommend the best course of action with regards to treatment.
Almost all dogs that come in contact with this virus will become infected. Approximately 80% will show signs and symptoms, while the other 20% will show none. The 20% that do not show symptoms may still spread the disease to others.
Is There a Vaccine for Canine Influenza?
Vaccines for Canine Influenza are now available throughout most parts of North America. Many veterinarians recommended vaccinating your pooch to avoid the spread of Dog flu.
With recent confirmed cases in Ontario, it is imperative for all dog owners to be knowledgeable about the risks of Dog flu. Being prepared and reducing your dog’s exposure risk is the best way to protect them from this highly contagious virus.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is Vice President of Canadian Pet Connection, a family owned and operated business located in Meaford, Ontario. He has over twenty years experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour and lifestyle. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.com.