Most dog owners embrace their pets as cherished members of their families. Since a cold or flu bug plaguing one member of a household quickly becomes everyone’s illness, you might wonder whether your furbabies can end up getting the same sniffles. For better or for worse, canine physiology doesn’t quite work that way.
According to Dupage Immediate Care, influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that can be easily spread from host to host through contact with respiratory fluids. Humans may be dangerously susceptible to various animal diseases, but canines and felines are largely immune to many human bugs. Instead, owners should be far more wary of H3N2 and H3N8, two serious canine influenza strains capable of wreaking havoc on a dog’s respiratory tract. Cases are rarely lethal, but they can make animals significantly uncomfortable and cause both pets and owners massive stress. In fact, dogs catch and experience cold or flu bugs much the same way their humans do.
The H3N8 virus actually originated among horses and first jumped to canines around 2004, beginning with a number of greyhounds at a Florida racetrack. Later, scientists theorized the H3N2 virus was first transferred from birds to dogs in Asia before traveling to the midwestern United States in 2015 and 2016. Dog Flu advises that these strains are spread via airborne pathogens as dogs cough, bark, and sneeze, but they can also run rampant through contact with contaminated objects, such as toys, collars, kennel surfaces, water bowls, or humans who have been in contact with infected animals. Symptoms such as moist or dry coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, fever, lethargy, labored breathing, and nasal discharge are not at all unlike those of a standard human flu bug.
As of now, dog flu has no known cure. Pet Insurance Guide US recommends creating a plan for your pet’s healthcare expenses. Treatment requires a veterinarian’s close attention, and many states require canine influenza cases to be immediately reported to government officials who can monitor the disease’s spread. Your veterinarian can advise you as to the best measures for keeping your dog comfortable amidst a recovery regimen of fluids, specialized nutrition and anti-inflammatory, cautionary quarantine procedures and antibiotic and nonsteroidal medications.
You should also expect to thoroughly disinfect your home as a means of eradicating any lingering traces of the virus. As with many human illnesses, the best treatment for any strain of canine influenza is prevention. That includes keeping your dog away from kennels and other public places where cases have recently been reported. Wash your arms, hands, and clothing immediately upon coming into contact with an animal you suspect might carry the illness to limit the risk of transmitting the virus to your dog. Although there is no cure, vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 with a veterinarian’s recommendation.
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