What is Canine Influenza?
As the name implies, Canine Influenza is a flu virus that affects the upper airways. It is highly contagious, and in some cases can make dogs very sick. The disease usually appears as regional outbreaks in boarding facilities, Greyhound racing tracks, or shelters. Most dogs that are coughing (that do not have heart disease) have either Kennel Cough or Canine Influenza. While both of these are infections of the upper respiratory airways, Kennel Cough is relatively minor while Canine Influenza can be life threatening.
Important things to know:
- Dogs with Canine Influenza act sick
- They are usually lethargic, not eating or drinking, and have a fever (over 102 F, as high as 106)
- They are coughing and have a runny nose with clear to pus-tinged discharge
- Dogs with Canine Influenza must be strictly confined because it is highly contagious
Dogs with canine influenza require veterinary treatment in the form of hospitalization and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. Intravenous antibiotics help prevent secondary bacterial infections. Most cases of canine influenza are confined to shelter dogs, and it is rare for the typical house dog to become infected.
A vaccine is available, so consult your vet for more information. If your dog is showing signs of canine influenza, seek veterinary help immediately.