Dog Flu Symptoms in Colorado Springs, CO: What to Look Out For

The flu is something we humans typically have to avoid seasonally, but we forget that our pets can contract the flu as well. Canine influenza, or the dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease. There are no recorded accounts of any humans having canine influenza but it can spread easily from dog to dog.

Though some cases are mild and require only some bedrest and lots of liquids, some dogs come down hard with the flu and develop worse illnesses. It is highly important to understand and recognize the symptoms of the dog flu in your four-legged friend in order to keep them safe and healthy.

Below, we’ll go over the common symptoms of dog flu in Colorado Springs, CO and what you need to do as a dog owner. 

What Is the Dog Flu?

There are two strains, H3N8 and H3N2. The first strain is thought to have spread to dogs through horses, where the equine influenza mutated to become contagious to dogs. As early as 2005 it has been considered a “new” pathogen in the US. In 2004 there was an outbreak at a Greyhound racetrack in Florida. Since then, there have been outbreaks such as in 2016 in the Midwest.

The second strain is understood to have been a bird flu, which mutated to be contagious in dogs. This strain, H3N2, has also been reported in cats who got it from contagious dogs. This strain of the flu virus is also relatively new. It was detected in South Korea in 2007 and again in 2015 in the US. Both strains are now spreading through the US.

What Are Dog Flu Symptoms and How Is It Contracted?

Just like the flu strains we are more familiar with, it is an airborne contagion. It is spread through what is called aerosolized respiratory secretions. This means coughing and sneezing, as well as barking.

It can also be spread through sharing water and food bowls, toys, bedding, and sniffing nose to nose. The virus can stay on surfaces for much longer than we think. It can take between 12-48 hours for a surface to be considered not contaminated.

More Than Just Dog-to-Dog Spreading

Dogs do not just get the virus from direct contact with other dogs, but from anything contaminated. Even our hands. Say you spent time outside of your home with another dog. That dog was contaminated with the dog flu.

When you get home, you do not wash your hands. Your dog greets you at the door and you give her scratches all over. Now she is covered in the virus and will easily contract it.

So always wash your hands before petting your dog if you have been petting another, even if that dog might not show symptoms of the flu.

Dog Flu Symptoms to Look Out For

Symptoms in canines are not dissimilar to our own. Both humans and dogs alike experience a runny nose, cough, sneeze, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and difficulty breathing. It is pretty clear when a dog has the flu.

Though the symptoms of the flu overlap with other serious infections such as kennel cough. A vet will be able to determine what illness is at play and treat it accordingly.

Occasionally a dog will have no symptoms but be contagious. Some dogs can recover with no medical help in a few weeks, but a small flu could end up a huge problem.

If unnoticed and untreated, the common dog flu could become pneumonia, or cause a secondary infection with even more health implications. Mortality rates from the flu are low, but this does not mean the flu should be taken lightly. Any dog with these symptoms should be taken to a vet.

How Is the Dog Flu Treated?

Just like with humans, there is no cure for the flu. There is just time, rest, and hydration. Some cough medicine could be prescribed in milder cases just to help the body have an easier time fighting off the virus.

Though antibiotics do not treat viral infections, a veterinarian might prescribe a round of antibiotics if they suspect a secondary bacterial infection might occur.

Preventing the Dog Flu in Colorado Springs

There might not be a cure, but preventative care is critical in staving off any illness, including the dog flu. Regular annual veterinary appointments, daily exercise, and a healthy diet are key in preventing sickness.

When a dog’s immune system is low, it is susceptible to disease such as canine influenza. Just like there is a flu shot for humans, there is a flu shot for dogs. Dogs can get their canine influenza vaccination and their body will be much more prepared to take on the virus.

However, if a dog is hardly ever in contact with other dogs, the vet might decide it is unnecessary to receive a canine flu shot.

Common Places Your Dog Could Get the Flu

When a dog does contract the flu, it is important to follow quarantine guidelines from your vet so as not to spread the flu to other animals in the house as well as neighbor pets. The flu is mostly contracted in places such as boarding facilities, dog parks, the groomers, and even walks around the neighborhood. Wherever dogs would come into contact with each other, that is where a dog is likely to give or get the flu.Boarding facilities, kennels, and groomers are often necessary for a great many reasons. Most facilities are clean and pride themselves on low-risk stays, but there is always a possibility of an outbreak of dog flu or kennel cough. Places like dog parks and playgroups should be used sparingly to also avoid risk of contracting anything from another dog.

Keep an Eye Out for Dog Flu Symptoms in Colorado Springs, CO

Remember, your dog will not be able to tell you that they think they have the flu. It is our responsibility as pet owners to watch for the signs of illness and take the dog to the doctor.

Call your vet ahead of time to warn them of your dog’s potential contagious state. The office might have you wait outside with your dog until the doctor is ready so as not to infect any other patients in the waiting room.

If the symptoms of any respiratory infection occur, it is important to get the dog into a vet as soon as possible.

At the Animal Hospital of Colorado Springs, our doctors and team are here for you when you and your pet need it most. If you think your dog is showing any signs of the flu, contact us right away to see what the next steps should be.