“We’ve seen a lot of coughing cases in the past few months, respiratory viruses are running rampant,” says Doctor Crawford. “Recently the same household brought in a trio of coughing dogs.. One of the dogs was severely lethargic, not eating, not drinking, and acting extremely sick. The other two were behaving fairly normally, with the exception of mild coughs. During my exam I heard increased respiratory sounds in both of them too. The very sick dog had a harsh cough though and a fever. We performed testing, including a respiratory PCR test and chest X-rays. The X-rays showed increased fluid content in the lungs and the PCR was positive for canine influenza.”
The canine influenza (dog flu) virus causes an acute respiratory infection in dogs. Infections may occur any time of the year, there’s no ‘season’ for it. The symptoms often resemble kennel cough, so it takes a PCR test to determine whether a dog has canine influenza. As for most viral diseases, treatment for canine influenza is largely supportive. Most infected dogs have a mild form of dog flu, with the most common sign being a cough that persists for ten to twenty days.
Some dogs are severely affected and show signs of pneumonia, such as fever and labored breathing. Most dogs recover from dog flu, but deaths due to it have been reported. To prevent other dogs from getting infected with the virus, dogs that have been diagnosed with canine influenza and other dogs in the household should be isolated for four weeks.
Back to our infected trio: “For the very sick dog we erred on the side of caution and started treatment with antibiotics (for secondary bacterial infections) and fluids. He was stable and fortunately bounced back quickly,” says Doctor Crawford. “Sometimes we see dogs with dog flu being hospitalized with oxygen, on fluids and IV antibiotics. I’ve seen owners decline testing, and the dog ending up hospitalized. Time is of the essence when it comes to dog flu.”
The dog flu vaccine reduces the risk of your dog contracting canine influenza. It may not altogether prevent an infection, but it may reduce the severity and duration. “We used to not have it here in the area, but it is here now. I definitely recommend the dog flu vaccine, because it decreases the severity of disease. Every dog should be vaccinated: protect your animal!” Doctor Crawford says.
The dog flu vaccine used to be a lifestyle vaccine, but because it’s so contagious we now recommend that all dogs receive it together with the bordetella vaccine. For more information please call us: 610-277-8387.