Larry Berreth, Eximiner.com, 1 May 2009
The media has been overrun with stories about Swine Flu (or its new PC moniker “H1N1”) but what about Dog Flu?
Canine influenza is when the flu occurs in dogs. It can be caused by different types of the influenza A virus, including equine influenza virus H3N8. The relationship with a mutated strain of H3N8 has been dated to 2004. Due to a lack of previous long term exposure to this virus, dogs have no natural immunity to it.
Dog flu can be spread rapidly between individual dogs. It is can have a high incidence, especially in certain regions of the U.S., but fortunately, a low level of mortality.
There is no certain evidence that the dog flu virus can be transferred to people, horses, cats, or other species. H5N1, the infamous avain influenza or bird flu, was linked to the death of a dog in Thailand after it ate an infected duck.
At this time, there is no incidence of the current “swine flu”, influenza A strain H1N1, infecting any dogs.
The symptoms of dog flu may be similar to a respiratory infection, including a lasting cough and possible greenish nasal discharge. Severe cases may include a high fever or pneumonia brought on by secondary bacterial infections.
While the normal mortality due to dog flu itself is only around 1% in the general and shelter populations, fatalities due to secondary pneumonia can be as high as 50%, if proper treatment is not given.
If pneumonia or any respiratory conditions develop, it is best to seek medical attention immediately so that they do not progress.
Direct treatment for dog flu is given as supportive care and antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections. Currently, there is no canine equivalent of the human flu shot.
The canine influenza virus can easily be rendered moot by thoroughly cleaning your dog’s environment with common disinfectants such as bleach solutions and limiting exposure to other contaminated animals.