Canine influenza (Dog Flu), is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs which is caused by a virus.
Canine influenza is a relatively new condition. The first documented case in the U.S. was in January of 2004 at a Greyhound racetrack in Florida. Since that time, there have been outbreaks throughout the U.S. Canine influenza virus is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza. It is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine influenza virus.
Two clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with the canine influenza virus – a mild form of the disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.
Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the “kennel cough” caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/para influenza virus complex. Therefore, it is not uncommon for true Dog Flu cases to be misdiagnosed as “kennel cough.” Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which may be caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
Dogs with the more severe form of canine influenza will develop a high fever, generally 104 – 106ºF, and show clinical symptoms of pneumonia, such as rapid, labored breathing. Pneumonia may be caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
Because this is a newly emerging disease, almost all dogs, are susceptible to infection and have no immunity. Virtually every dog that is exposed to the virus will become infected, and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease. Fortunately, most affected dogs have the mild form.
Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different syndromes:
1. Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. Occasionally, it will be more of a dry cough. In most cases, the symptoms will last 10 to 30 days and usually will go away on its own.
2. Severe – Generally, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop signs very quickly. Pneumonia, specifically hemorrhagic pneumonia, can develop. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, so the dog may cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs). Patients may also be infected with bacterial pneumonia, which can further complicate the situation.
General signs of these syndromes include:
Red and/or runny eyes and runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In most cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus.
Another diagnostic tool called a bronchoscope can be used to see the trachea and larger bronchi. Cell samples can also be collected by conducting a bronchial wash or a bronchoalveolar lavage. These samples will typically have large amounts of neutrophils and may contain bacteria.
Detecting the virus itself is very difficult and is usually not recommended. There is a blood (serological) test that can support a canine influenza diagnosis. In most cases, a blood sample is taken after initial symptoms develop and then again two to three weeks later.
The severe form needs to be treated aggressively with a broad spectrum of antibiotics, fluids and other general support treatments. Hospitalization and isolation are necessary until the dog is stable.
There is no vaccine for canine influenza. There are other respiratory conditions that can be vaccinated against, specifically Bordetella bronchiseptica, the bacteria responsible for what is commonly called “kennel cough.”
Any dog that is suspected to have canine influenza should be isolated from other dogs. Those dogs with the mild form of the infection usually recover on their own. Canine influenza is not a contagion issue for humans or other species.
The most commonly ask question that I get is what is the normal temperature for my dog and how do I take it.
An adult dog temperature is 100 to 102.5F (37.7 to 39.2C)
Average: 101.3F (38.5C)
At birth to four week a puppy temperature is 94 to 97F (34.4 to 36.1C) until week four where they begin to keep their body temp the same as an adult.
To take your dogs temperature is the same as a human infant.
That is rectally.
Using KY jelly will help aid you in taking your dogs temperature. For a puppy use a pediatric thermometer.
If the thermometer should break off contact your veterinarian immediately.
Using a digital thermometer is usually recommended.