Viruses: Dog Flu
Dog Flu Virus:
Canine Flu Virus or “Canine Influenza Virus” (CIV) is a newly discovered strain of a specific Type A, Influenza Virus. Dog influenza virus is actually mutated form an existing H3N8 strain of Equine Influenza Virus; which was discovered 40 years ago. It was first discovered in racing dogs in 2004.
Canine flu virus can be transmitted through direct contact; it is an airborne virus, transmitted through sneezing and coughing. The incubation period of the virus is about 3–5 days, after which clinical symptoms usually appear. Infected dogs can transmit flu to other dogs for up to 7–10 days after the onset of clinical disease. Many dogs usually do not show any symptoms, but are potentially carriers of the virus and can infect other healthy dogs.
As far as clinical signs and symptoms are concerned, flu in dogs may be mild or severe. Usually, infected dogs show signs which mirror “Kennel Cough”, such as coughing, sneezing and fever. Nasal discharge is mainly watery, mixed with some mucous material .
Most dogs remain asymptomatic and only experience mild forms of the infection, but some dogs can develop a severe disease; which can cause the dogs to experience lower respiratory tract infections. Pneumonia is more common in such dogs.
Morbidity (incidence rate or the prevalence rate of a disease) is higher then mortality (susceptible to death), meaning that almost all dogs; which come in contact with the virus are infected, but the flu has not been proven to be fatal as of yet. Research has shown that 94% of all the dogs reported to have flu, had mild forms of infection.
Respiratory signs, along with the rapid spreading of disease among dog populations, can be suspected as canine flu, but serological tests for confirmation is recommended for prevention.
Since its discovery, no specific treatment is available for dog flu, only supportive therapies have been used. Dogs can be administered, supplements and fluids intravenously in order to keep dogs well hydrated.
In some cases, where severity is noted or in cases where a secondary bacterial infection is suspected, broad-spectrum antibiotics can be used with a veterinarians prescription.
Prevention of Dog Flu:
No effective vaccine is commercially available for canine flu, though a conditional license has been issued recently. It will take another couple of years, before dog influenza vaccine would be available commercially.
There is a homeopathic supportive therapy available. These types of products seek to boost the effectiveness of the immune system in fighting disease, support the respiratory system and help to speed healing and impact the severity of symptoms such as fever. For example, one product, Vi-Pro Plus , is specifically made for this purpose and contains ingredients such as Bryonia (respiratory health), Echinacea purp (immune support), Distemperinum (disease resistance). The manufacturers website contains clinical studies that support the use of these ingredients. Check with your veterinarian for additional information and so that progress can be tracked.