Canine Influenza

Everyone knows that puppies and dogs get sick from time to time, but many pet owners are surprised to learn that their beloved dogs can come down with the flu! Our veterinarians at Glastonbury Animal Hospital recommend that all pet owners become aware of the symptoms of canine influenza and why it should be taken seriously.


Where Does Canine Influenza Come From?

Dogs catch the flu in very much the same way humans do, by coming into contact with the virus. Canine influenza is known to be highly contagious and spreads easily from dog to dog. So, if you suspect your pup has it, it is very important to keep your pet away from other animals. Always call a veterinarian or animal hospital first before bringing your pet in for an examination.

The truth is that "dog flu" is relatively new. Though there were some suspected outbreaks among greyhounds at some racing tracks in the late 1980s and 1990s, it wasn't until the early 2000s that influenza in canines was confirmed by testing. The illness is caused by a variety of influenza strains, and because it is so new, dogs do not have a natural immunity to it.

Symptoms of Canine Influenza

Canine influenza is a very contagious respiratory illness and carries a lot of symptoms, but the good news is that it very rarely leads to death. Symptoms include the following:

  • Wheezing
  • Red or watery-looking eyes
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge (usually greenish)
  • Cough/sneezing
  • Sluggishness or changes in behavior
  • Vomiting (uncommon but may be caused inadvertently if the dog feels discomfort)

About 80 percent of dogs who have the flu will display some symptoms. Keep in mind that sometimes dogs can be asymptomatic but still carry the virus. Pneumonia may also result from canine flu, which is a severe respiratory infection that can cause difficulty breathing. If you think your dog may have pneumonia, your pet should receive veterinary care as soon as possible.

If you believe your pet has come into contact with another dog who has canine influenza, it is a good idea to keep the animal away from any other pets for at least a few weeks so your pet does not accidentally spread the virus.

What to Do if You Think Your Dog Has the Flu

If you notice any of the symptoms of canine influenza in your dog or suspect your pet has come into contact with the illness, give our veterinarians at Glastonbury Animal Hospital a call right away at 860-633-8394. We may ask that you bring your dog in for an appointment to confirm the animal has canine influenza, or we may advise you to stay at home. Either way, it is important to keep your dog as comfortable as possible so it can recover.


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