Did you know that there is such a thing as canine flu? Many people have heard of kennel cough, but there are many dog owners that have no clue that their dog can get the flu. If you are one of those dog owners that didn’t know about canine flu, there is no need to feel guilty, we all have to learn sometime. That time is now!
Canine flu and kennel cough are both respiratory infections that can affect dogs. They are caused by different viruses and bacteria, and while some of the symptoms may be common, some of the symptoms are quite different. Additionally, the treatments for both of these conditions are quite different.
Table of Contents
- 1 Do I have a dog with the flu or is it kennel cough?
- 1.1 What is canine flu?
- 1.2 What is kennel cough?
- 1.3 Are there preventatives available?
- 1.4 So do you have a dog with the flu or kennel cough?
Do I have a dog with the flu or is it kennel cough?
Here are some specifics regarding canine flu and kennel cough. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll be more prepared the next time your sweet pup starts to show symptoms.
What is canine flu?
Canine flu, dog flu, or canine influenza, is extremely contagious and is caused by a virus called the canine influenza virus (CIV). There are two main strains of CIV: H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 was first identified in 2004 and is the strain commonly found throughout the United States. The newer strain of H3N2 was first identified in Asia in 2006 and has begun to be seen more recently in the United States.
Just a quick look at your local news will show you that canine flu is making the headlines quite a bit. This cold and flu season hasn’t just been rough on us humans, my friends, it’s been bad for the dogs too! If you are curious to see US outbreaks, look at this outbreak map.
What are the symptoms of canine flu?
Symptoms of canine flu include the following:
- Nasal discharge
In severe cases, canine flu can lead to pneumonia and even death, although this is rare. Dogs can have canine flu without showing any symptoms or they can show them all. If your dogs are showing any of these symptoms, be sure and reach out to your veterinarian.
It is important to be aware that symptoms and severity can change quickly. Dylan and Rainey both caught the flu. They seemed to be improving, but the next morning Dylan wouldn’t eat and he quickly developed pneumonia. Dylan never turns away food so that immediately instigated a trip to the vet. The vet immediately put him on antibiotics and a cough suppressant. Rainey never needed a see the vet as she just got better naturally.
How is dog flu transmitted?
Canine flu is transmitted through the air, by direct contact with infected dogs, or by coming into contact with objects contaminated with the virus, such as toys or food bowls.
Dog flu often hits groups of dogs that are kenneled or boarded together and they often share toys, bowls, and space.
What is the treatment for canine flu?
Treatment for canine flu is mostly supportive care such as keeping your dog comfortable and hydrated while the dog is sick. This helps the dog’s body build up an immune response, thereby facilitating recovery. If the vet suspects that your dog has a secondary infection, antibiotics may be prescribed. Your vet may also prescribe a cough suppressant.
Most dogs will recover from canine flu within two to three weeks. Those dogs that have developed secondary infections, however, need to be watched closely for signs of more severe illness such as pneumonia. If your dog stops to eat or becomes very lethargic, you should immediately go to the vet as pneumonia can quickly become very severe.
What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. The most common cause of kennel cough is a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica, but other viruses and bacteria, such as parainfluenza and adenovirus, can also contribute to the infection.
What are the symptoms of kennel cough?
Symptoms of kennel cough include the following:
- Dry, hacking cough (these coughs often sound like a “honk”)
- Runny nose and nasal discharge
- Low fever
- Reduced appetite
Kennel cough is usually not serious and will resolve on its own within a few weeks, but it can be more severe in puppies, elderly dogs, or dogs with compromised immune systems.
How is kennel cough transmitted?
Like the canine flu, kennel cough is also highly contagious and is transmitted through the air or by direct contact with infected dogs. Kennel cough is a big concern for dogs that are kenneled or boarded together. It can also be very rapidly spread between dogs at dog parks, training groups, as well as dog shows.
What is the treatment for kennel cough?
Kennel cough is typically treated with a week or two of rest, however oftentimes a veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics in an effort to prevent a secondary infection as well as cough medication to ease symptoms and make your dog more comfortable.
If your dog has kennel cough, make sure to use a harness as opposed to a collar for walking them so as to not aggravate their trachea further. Additionally, if you are a home with more than one dog, it is likely that all of your dogs have been exposed.
Are there preventatives available?
Both canine flu and kennel cough can be prevented with vaccines. The canine flu vaccine is available for both strains of CIV and is recommended for dogs at high risk of exposure, such as those that go to dog shows or boarding facilities. The kennel cough vaccine is also available and is often required by boarding facilities and doggy daycares. You should discuss vaccinations with your vet to assess if these are advisable for your dog.
Many people like to try home remedies before taking their dog to the vet. While there are benefits to that, it is important to at least speak to your vet if they are suffering severe symptoms to ensure your vet doesn’t think you should rush them in.
The most important treatment for both of these conditions is supportive care which can include home remedies. Home remedies that are often used in the case of canine respiratory illnesses include:
- Fluids (lots of fluids)
- Food (encourage your dog to eat, maybe spoil them with treats to encourage eating)
- Raw honey (1 teaspoon, 4 times per day helps clear nasal fluids)
- Chicken soup (avoid onions, salt, and garlic), serve cold
- Coconut oil (add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to your dog’s food every day)
- Steam vaporizer (helps clear respiratory tract)
So do you have a dog with the flu or kennel cough?
In conclusion, canine flu and kennel cough are both respiratory infections that can affect dogs. They are caused by different viruses and bacteria and have different symptoms and treatments. Canine flu can be more serious than kennel cough and can lead to complications such as pneumonia, however both can be prevented with vaccines.
Also, in general, healthy dogs are better able to fight these illnesses naturally. Feeding a fresh, nutrient-rich diet will also help to build your dog’s natural immune system. Also, highly socialized dogs tend to have stronger immune systems. So, even if they get sick, it may not last as long or be as severe.