Monday, April 14, 2014

Dog Flu

Dog flu is a relatively new strain of influenza. This virus, belonging to the influenza A family, is a mutated strain of an equine influenza virus that has been detected in horses for more than 40 years. It was first reported in January 2004 at a greyhound track in Florida. Since then, it has been reported in other states. Dogs in shelters, humane societies, and boarding facilities are at particular risk and are often vaccinated.
There have been confirmed cases in 30 States in the U.S. Dogs are highly susceptible to the disease since they have no immunity from prior infections.
Dogs can only catch the flu from other dogs. It is transmitted through the air, usually by dogs coughing or sneezing on each other. If your dog has not been around any other dogs in the past week or so, then he can’t have the flu.


Infected dogs can spread the flu for 7 to 10 days after symptoms appear. Dogs that show no clinical signs can also spread the disease.
Humans cannot catch the flu from dogs; it is a different strain of flu.

Symptoms

Dog flu symptoms in its mild form include sneezing, nasal discharge, lack of energy, reduced appetite, low grade fever, and a persistent cough that can last for up to three weeks. It can resemble kennel cough and other respiratory diseases.Because of the similarity of the two diseases, it is recommended that a "better safe than sorry" approach be taken, with an immediate trip to the veterinarian for evaluation.
Cough can persist for 2 to 3 weeks. Nasal discharge is more likely than sneezing. Most dogs recover with no complications.
In severe cases, high grade fever (104 - 106 degrees) difficulty breathing (increased respiratory rate). Secondary bacterial pneumonia may set in if left untreated.

Diagnosis

There are two types of tests available for dog flu. In dogs that have been ill for less than 4 days, a veterinarian can collect swabs from the nose. In dogs that have been. There is a blood test that is only accurate seven days after the onset of symptoms that will show antibodies to the flu virus, meaning that your dog’s body is fighting off the virus, but that does’t help if you take your dog to the vet when he first gets sick. The other method uses Given the need to wait the seven days, your veterinarian will probably make a preliminary diagnosis based on the symptoms and medical history you provide.
If he has been around another dog, and he has symptoms of the flu, then he may well have the flu. Since treatment for the flu is similar to treatment for many other respiratory infections, having an exact diagnosis may not really matter anyway.

Treatment

There is no treatment since canine influenza is a viral infection. It just needs to move through its infectious cycle, which is usually 7 days. Most dogs will recover without any treatment. The virus will simply run its course. Keep your dog warm and dry. She may not have much or an appetite, but encourage her to drink plenty of water.
In some cases, secondary infections like pneumonia may set in. In these cases, antibiotics are required. These are given orally, usually for 14 days. Your vet may want to give your dog antibiotics anyway, just in case he has something besides the flu virus.
In very severe cases, dogs may require intravenous fluids and antibiotics. This will require hospitalization which is unusual.
Ask your veterinarian about supplementing your dogs diet with natural remedies made to support respiratory health and bolster the immune system. Respo-K is an example of one product that combines several natural ingredients that are associated with supporting the immune and respiratory system.

Mortality Rate 

6 to 8% of dogs that get dog flu will die from the disease if left untreated.

Prevention

There is a new vaccine for canine influenza caused by the strain H3N8. It is not one of the required or core vaccines on most states. Greyhounds, show dogs and others that travel to states where there is a higher prevalence of the disease, including dogs living Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Colorado should discuss vaccination with their veterinarian.
The vaccine requires two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, followed by re vaccination. Often dogs that are vaccinated for kennel cough are vaccinated for canine influenza as well. Most dog shelters and veterinarians offer the vaccine a low cost ($35 to $45).
The dog flu vaccine is a killed viral vaccine, so there is no potential for the vaccine to cause the virus itself. It is save for dogs 6 weeks of age or older. Like other dog influenza vaccines, it may not prevent infection of the dog, but will reduce the severity of the clinical disease, it will reduce the progression of the disease to pneumonia, and reduce the time that a dog can spread the disease to other dogs.

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