Dr. Gary Edelson, DVM
Ask Dr. Gary
"My dog's symptoms are that of the human flu..."
Dear Dr. Gary:
My 2-year-old Labradoodle has a runny nose and is starting to cough. Is this the “dog flu” and how can I protect my other dogs?
Dr. Gary says:
Canine Influenza Virus (CIV, “dog flu”) was first identified in racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004. CIV was thought to cause a rapid and widespread mortality (death) rate in affected animals. Since that time, it has been seen that the disease behaves much like other influenza viruses, causing a high morbidity (infection), but a low mortality rate when diagnosed and treated appropriately.
The virus is efficiently spread between dogs by aerosol, direct and fomite (physical object) transmission of respiratory secretions.
Most dogs will recover with supportive treatment (intravenous fluids, antibiotics, nebulization). A small percentage of dogs will get pneumonia. These dogs are at risk for death, and support becomes more aggressive.
The new CIV vaccine, like flu vaccines for all other species, does not prevent infection but does reduce the severity of disease. Based on mutation data to date, it does not appear the CIV virus is rapidly mutating like the human flu virus does.
Do not allow your dog to socialize with coughing dogs. If your dog develops any other of the following symptoms: cough, snotty nose or listlessness, see your veterinarian as CIV is an emerging disease.
The Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center web site provides state-by-state statistics here.
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