Canine Influenza or commonly called dog flu (H3N8) is a newly emerging highly infectious airborne type virus that can cause contagious respiratory illness and infection in dogs with no exception to breed or age.
Since canine flu is a new disease so there is still much more to learn from this virus. Dog flu (H3N8) is very different from avian influenza or commonly called bird flu (N5N1) that has killed many birds, chickens and peoples in Asia countries.
Nearly 100 percent of dogs that are exposed to dog flu will get infected because they have no natural immunity to this new emerging disease and around 80 percent of infected dogs will develop mild flu symptoms within the range of two to five days after exposure. However some them may not show signs or symptoms at all but remain contagious for few day or weeks. The conditions and illness can be severe for young puppies, old dog and canine with low or weaken immune systems.
Most infected dogs make a full recovery within a few weeks but there are some case that canine influenza can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.
Canine Influenza continuously mutates itself and has the adaptation ability to infect a large variety of animals.
The incubation period for dog flu is around four weeks. If infected dogs had good treatment of antibiotics then they should be back to normal conditions. Mortality rate is very low.
There are molecular studies which indicated that dog flu mutated from equine influenza virus which is commonly called horse flu (H7N7 or H3N8). Equine influenza has been around for more than 40 years ago and there is no report on horse flu disease transmitted to humans. Centers for disease control (CDC) researchers do not expect dog flu transmission to humans because Canine Influenza and Equine Influenza are closely related.
Initially Influenza viruses are specific for their own host species and it requires a dramatic mutation in order to jump to other kind of species so if mutation occurs in the future then there is a chance that human can get infected but at present there is nothing to worry about.
Spread and Transmission
Dog flu is an airborne type virus which spread or transmitted to other nearby dogs by coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by direct contact with contaminated surface or secretions from the nose.
Symptoms may be seen after 2-5 days of exposure and infected dog have the ability to spread flu virus for 7-10 days.
Dog Flu Symptoms
- persistence coughing for 1-3 weeks
- dry, hacking cough
- gagging or choking like going to vomit after cough
- rapid, shallow and difficulty breathing
- runny eyes
- loss of appetite
- loss of energy
- extreme lethargy
- yellow or green thick discharge from the nose
- high fever over 105 degree fahrenheit
- secondary bacterial infection (pneumonia)
Dog flu symptoms is closely mimics kennel cough disease (tracheobronchitis).