Canine Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs and cats. There are 2 strains of the illness, and it’s relatively new virus which means that very few pets have immunities to it.
This illness is very easily spread between pets via droplets or aerosol transmission. Your pet can catch it just by being near a sick animal who coughs, sneezes, or even barks! It tends to spread where pets congregate: the dog park, a kennel, the groomer, or doggy daycare facilities (good reasons to use a pet sitter)!
The virus can live for 48 hours on surfaces, which means that toys, water bowls, leashes, and other objects can spread this virus. The incubation period is 1 – 5 days, and it’s in this time period when a pet is most contagious. It’s also before they show any symptoms, so you can see why it’s so easily spread.
This flu can cause severe respiratory infections so you need to look for the symptoms: a cough, nasal or eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy, fever, and lack of appetite. If your pet is showing these symptoms, it’s time to go to the vet and have the severity of their flu diagnosed. Many pets also come down with secondary bacterial infections that may need treatment.
If your dog or cat is diagnosed with Canine Influenza your vet will set up a treatment plan depending on how your pet is doing. Some may just need rest, while others may need fluids or antibiotics for secondary infections.
The good news is that there is a vaccine for dogs (not for cats). Discuss the flu situation in your area with your vet before your best friend gets ill, to help you make a decision about vaccinating your pet.
States with flu outbreaks (all but 4)