Is there a test for canine influenza?
Testing to confirm H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza virus infection in dogs is available. Your veterinarian can tell you if testing is appropriate.
Where did canine influenza viruses come from and how long have they been around?
Canine influenza H3N8 viruses originated in horses, spread to dogs, and can now spread between dogs. H3N8 equine influenza (horse flu) viruses have been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported in the United States. An investigation showed that this respiratory illness was caused by equine influenza A(H3N8) viruses. Scientists believe this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and has adapted to cause illness in dogs and spread among dogs, especially those housed in kennels and shelters. This is now considered a dog-specific, or canine, H3N8 virus. In September 2005, this virus was identified by experts as a “newly emerging pathogen in the dog population” in the United States. It has now been detected in dogs across much of the United States.
Canine influenza H3N2 viruses originated in birds, spread to dogs, and can now spread between dogs. Transmission of H3N2 canine influenza viruses to cats from infected dogs has been reported also. Canine influenza A H3N2 viruses were first detected in dogs in South Korea in 2007, and also have been reported in dogs in China, Thailand, and Canada. H3N2 canine influenza viruses were first detected in the United States in April 2015, and has now been found in more than 30 states. To date, the H3N2 canine viruses reported in the U.S. have been almost genetically identical to canine H3N2 viruses previously reported only in Asia.
What can I do to care for my dog with canine influenza, and how severe is the infection in most cases?
Virtually 100% of dogs exposed to CIV will become infected. For this reason, it is important that owners of dogs diagnosed with the virus keep them away from other dogs. This includes trips to the groomer’s or dog parks and contact with other dogs during walks and in kennels. Clothing, equipment, floors, and hands should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water after contact with any dog with signs of respiratory illness.
About 80% of infected dogs will develop respiratory signs, while the other 20% will remain healthy but continue to spread the infection. Most infected dogs will develop clinical signs within 2 days of exposure to the virus. Current research indicates that an infected dog stops shedding the virus up to 20 days after the start of clinical signs. Just like the human flu virus, CIV is most infectious before a dog shows signs of illness. Because many dog owners won’t know when their dog contracted CIV, infected dogs should be quarantined at home (and away from other dogs in the household) for 4 weeks after diagnosis.
A small percentage of dogs, especially those that are older or have pre-existing conditions or short, flat faces, will develop potentially life-threatening pneumonia. These dogs are at risk for serious complications, including death, and must be treated promptly and aggressively.
Signs and symptoms of dog flu to look out for
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