At Vet Organics, we understand that pets are family and family matters most. That’s why we are providing this important public service announcement about the 2017 Canine Influenza outbreak that has been hitting shelters, rescues, vet offices, and some canine homes, across the U.S.
The outbreak has been building for a while now, most of the year, but we’ve decided now is the time to educate our Vet Organics family and help you understand what’s happening.
- Canine Influenza is spreading across the country. It is especially concerning because of the infection and death rate.
- It cannot infect humans but can spread to cats
- The first 1-5 days are when it is most contagious, but symptoms occur at 2-8 days.
- The virus lasts on human hands for 12 hours, soft surfaces (e.g., clothes, dog beds, etc…) for 24 hours and hard surfaces (e.g., countertops, floors, etc…) for 48 hours.
- Infection can be transmitted by infected dogs up to 28 days after exposure.
- Infection can also occur in places where infected dogs have been, on objects, from humans who have been in contact with infected dogs, and from surfaces near which infected dogs have been near.
- Symptoms resemble dry, hacking kennel cough. Also watch for lack of appetite, lethargy, fever, and discharge from nose and eyes.
- Take a cat or canine who might be infected to the vet for testing and observation.
Also called dog flu, this viral infection is highly contagious. There are currently two strains that have been identified. They are called H3N8 and H3N2. Influenza can be a concern, just meaning it is something that is being tracked and closely monitored.
The flu is a viral infection known for its ability to develop new strains quickly and can jump the species barrier. Both these strains are able to infect species other than dogs. However, there is NO evidence that either strain of canine influenza can infect humans. Thankfully, our non-fur-baby family is safe.
Canine influenza strain H3N8 first saw diagnoses in dogs in 2004 in Florida racing greyhounds. It is suspected it jumped the species barrier from horses and is a strain of equine influenza. It has now been found in most U.S. states.
Canine H3N2 influenza was first diagnosed in Chicago in March of 2015. It was originally only found in South Korea, China, and Thailand and was circulating as avian influenza in bird markets. In 2016 the virus again jumped the species barrier when it infected shelter cats.
Canine Influenza is an airborne virus. This means it’s transmitted through coughing, barking, and sneezing. Dogs at risk are those who come into contact with infected dogs or who spend time in places where infected dogs have been. For example, dog parks, kennels, boarding facilities, doggie daycare, groomers, anywhere doggie play dates may occur, pet stores where people may bring their dogs in with them, and rescues, and shelters.
The infection can also be transmitted through shared objects. For example, dog beds, collars and leashes, food and water bowls, and kennels. Dogs can also catch canine influenza by coming into contact with people who have been in contact with infected dogs. Even though people cannot catch canine influenza, their clothes and unwashed hands can carry the virus.
Everything should be washed and disinfected after exposure or suspected exposure. The virus can remain alive on a surface for up to 48 hours. It can remain alive and infectious on clothing and other fabrics for up to 24 hours. And is can remain viable and infectious on unwashed hands for 12 hours.
The incubation period is 1-5 days. Symptoms will begin to show around 2-8 days after exposure. The 1-5 day incubation period is when the virus is most contagious, which is also when they don’t show symptoms yet, making it particularly dangerous. Some dogs can carry the virus and transmit it without ever showing signs of illness, called subclinical infection. Even though the first week is when they are most contagious, they can remain contagious for up to a month.
This flu closely resembles kennel cough. Watch for a dry, hacking cough. It can last for 10 to 21 days despite treatments that may be administered, such as antibiotics and cough suppressants.
They may develop an eye or nose discharge. This is usually a secondary bacterial infection that develops because of their compromised immune system. A fever of 104-105 degrees may occur. This may also be because of a secondary infection.
Cats who become infected may show signs of an upper respiratory disease. There may be nasal discharge, congestion, and excessive salivation.
Diagnosis & Treatment
There haven’t been any cat fatalities associated with canine influenza. Virtually all dogs who dogs are exposed to the virus become infected. Approximately 80% of dogs who are exposed to the virus end up developing the disease and showing clinical signs. About 10% of dogs who receive timely treatment pass away from canine influenza.
Quality dog guardianship and nutrition to help dogs fight with the best immune response is the first line of defense, both preventative and as treatment. At Vet Organics, we recommend EcoEats. As dehydrated food, it’s as close as we can get to a fresh, whole foods diet as we can get. We also recommend EcoImmune, a powerful immunity supplement for dogs and cats.
Right now, antiviral drugs for influenza are only approved for human use. Treatment includes administration of fluids to help correct dehydration or maintain hydration. Veterinarians will also treat the symptoms and make dogs as comfortable as possible, such as cough suppressants, anti-nausea, and antimicrobials to help fight secondary infections.
There is a vaccine available. It must be administered in two doses over a two to three week period. Just like human vaccines, it may not completely prevent infection but will make it much less likely. If vaccinated and then infected, it will be much more mild with a shorter duration.
Share This PSA With Your Network
There’s always something going on in the world of veterinary medicine. When it comes to pest-borne illnesses, like those contracted from ticks, fleas, and mosquitos, there’s a natural ebb and flow to outbreaks and illnesses. Sometimes something new comes along that causes concern. Canine Influenza isn’t cause for panic, but it’s something to know about and watch out for.
At Vet Organics, we understand just how important fur babies are to every family, and we are sharing this help educate and build awareness. We hope you’ll share this with your network and keep the message going.
To learn more about pest-borne illnesses, these articles are helpful guides:
- 6 Most Common Deadly, but Preventable Dog Illnesses (Part One)
- 6 Most Common Deadly, but Preventable Dog Illnesses (Part Two)
- The Everything Guide to Fleas & Your Pet
- Fast Facts and Stats About Fleas and Our Pets
- The Everything Guide to Fleas & Your Pet – Part Two (Know the Enemy)
- The Everything Guide to Fleas & Your Pet – Part Three (Flea Home Invasions)
- Infographic: Comprehensive Guide to Ticks & Pet Safety
- Your Must-Have Guide to Tick-Borne Illnesses in Dogs
- Getting Rid of Ticks: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Favorite Tick Hiding Places On Our Dogs