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In the winter months, many people are concerned about getting the flu, so they get a flu shot. But did you know that your dog can also get the flu? According to the AVMA, canine influenza is a highly-contagious infection that is caused by the influenza A virus. Thankfully, canine influenza is not transmitted to humans. So if your doggie has the flu, you don’t have to worry about you or your kids catching it from him or her.

Symptoms

A dog that has canine influenza will show signs of a respiratory infection. Its most common symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge and red eyes. However, some dogs become very ill, develop a high fever, have trouble breathing or develop pneumonia as a result. According to Pet MD, some dogs can even develop a fever between 103 and 107 degrees. It only takes a couple of days for your dog to get the flu after being exposed. Common places where dogs are exposed to the canine flu include kennels, hospitals, grooming salons and dog parks.

Without a diagnosis from a veterinarian, it may be hard to determine if your dog has developed canine influenza. This is because its symptoms are similar to other conditions such as kennel cough. A veterinarian may swab the dog’s nose or throat or may find out by giving your dog a blood test.

Prevention

Basically, any time dogs are congregating with one another, their exposure risk increases. The best way to prevent canine influenza is to keep an ear to the ground for news of a local outbreak. Should you hear of one, your dog would just need to avoid having casual contact with unknown dogs until the outbreak is controlled. Because it is a new virus, experts warn that almost every dog that comes into contact with the canine flu are going to contract it.

If you kennel your pet, ask if they have had any recent outbreaks and if the dogs were properly isolated. Make sure the facility is clean, well ventilated and requires all dogs to be current on their vaccinations.

In 2009, the first canine influenza vaccine was developed. Although it won’t prevent your dog from getting the flu in the first place, vaccinated dogs usually don’t become as sick as unvaccinated ones. Vaccinated dogs also recover more quickly.

Treatment

If your dog has canine influenza, your veterinarian may give him or her fluid therapy, antibiotics and cough medications. Dogs that are seriously ill may need to be hospitalized, but most dogs with the flu will only need care for about 2 or 3 weeks before they are better.

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