Canine flu has been in the news recently, with some limited outbreaks recorded in Northern Arizona. Naturally, we’ve had a lot of calls from concerned pet parents. We totally get it. Our pets are beloved family members. Of course we want to be sure they’re getting the care they need in order to stay healthy!
Since we just happen to have more than 100 knowledgeable veterinarians in our AZPetVet family, we decided to ask Dr. Chris Hummel from AZPetVet Peoria to answer the most frequently asked questions about Canine Influenza.
Q: Is dog flu the same as people flu?
No. From a viral standpoint, dog flu is NOT the same as people flu. The two strains of Canine Influenza viruses found in the United States are H3N8 and N3N2, which researchers believe originated in horses. In very rare cases the dog flu virus has been known to infect cats, but the flu poses little risk to cats beyond a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing.
People don’t get dog flu, and dogs don’t get people flu. However, in people and in dogs, there’s a gap between being exposed to the flu virus and developing symptoms. That’s why we’ll so often see outbreaks happen in clusters. Somebody is contagious and doesn’t know it until it’s too late; then suddenly everyone is sick.
From the American Veterinary Medical Association:
“H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a subclinical infection and shed the virus.”
Q: How would a dog catch the flu?
Almost the same way a person would. The virus is transmitted through the air by sneezing and coughing (or barking, drooling and licking), or by contact with infected surfaces. Most likely, they would come into contact with another dog that’s contagious. So exposure to the dog flu virus usually happens at places where you find lots of dogs; the dog park, doggie daycare, a boarding kennel, grooming salon or dog show.
Q: What are the symptoms?
Well, here’s another area where dog flu is similar to people flu. Dogs with the flu will show symptoms like fever, lethargy, cough, stuffy or runny nose and watery eyes, difficulty breathing, wheezing or rapid breathing. You’ll be able to tell they’re not feeling well. Keep them quiet and away from other pets to avoid exposing them to the virus. Then it’s time to get busy.
The Canine Influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Wash your hands frequently. Wash your clothing, and clean and disinfect other items your pet may have touched. These include kennels and crates, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, bedding and toys.
Q: Is dog flu dangerous?
The severity of the flu varies depending on the viral strain, the pet’s age and overall health. Most otherwise healthy dogs will recover from the flu without problem or any special treatment required. The cough may last for up to 3-4 weeks.
Older dogs with weakened immune systems or puppies with underdeveloped immunity are more at risk as their bodies will have a harder time fighting the virus, so there’s a higher risk for developing pneumonia.
Dogs with short muzzles, like pugs and bulldogs, already have a compromised respiratory system. Sore throats and stuffy noses would naturally make them feel quite sick, so they’d need close monitoring and a trip to the vet’s office.
Q: How is Canine Influenza treated?
There is no specific treatment for Canine Influenza. Most dogs will not need any specialized treatment. The majority of treatments used in severe cases are supportive. They may include IV fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, breathing treatments, and mucolytics (a class of medications which help break down mucus to make it easier to expel it from the lungs).
Q: So should my dog get a flu shot?
While vaccines are available for both H3N8 and H3N2 strains of canine influenza, vaccination would only be recommended for dogs at high risk for infection. It is important to note, vaccination can only reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza, it may not prevent an infection. However, it can potentially reduce the severity and duration of the flu. It’s best to talk over your concerns with your vet.
Q: Anything else we need to know?
One last, but very important reminder – people can’t get dog flu, but they can inadvertently spread it if they’ve touched a contaminated surface (or petted one). That’s why animal hospitals follow strict guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. We take extra precautions when seeing pets that are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
If you suspect your pet has the flu or has been exposed to it, or they’re having respiratory symptoms, call us first. You may receive special instructions for bringing your dog into the office. These restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of exposing other animals in the waiting room to something that could be contagious.
World Rabies Day is the 28th of September. It was created to both inspire activism and raise awareness of the disease.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that infects the central nervous system of humans and animals and causes inflammation of the brain. It can be deadly to animals and humans, so it’s important for pets to be vaccinated.
In Arizona, Maricopa and Pinal County laws require dogs to be vaccinated against the rabies virus. Puppies should receive a rabies vaccine at 16 weeks, and a rabies booster the following year. Once a dog has completed the puppy rabies vaccination series, they should be vaccinated against rabies every three years.
How does it spread?
Typically rabies is spread by other warm-blooded animals infected with the virus. Rabies is most commonly found in bats in Europe, North America, and Australia, and in dogs in Asia and Africa.
From the Arizona Department of Health Services:
In Arizona, the principal rabies hosts are bats, skunks, and foxes. These animals carry their own distinct rabies virus variants or “strains”. When rabies activity within these animal groups increases, rabies can “spillover” into other mammal species, such as bobcats, coyotes, javelina, cats, dogs, horses, cows, etc.
Every year, approximately 30 people are exposed to rabid animals in Arizona. People who are exposed must receive vaccine and anti-rabies serum treatment to prevent infection.
In Arizona, bats present the most common source of rabies exposures to humans because rabid bats often fall to the ground where they are easily accessible to people and pets. Bats are generally not aggressive. Exposure to rabid bats usually occurs when people pick up or handle a sick or dead bat. Other rabies exposures occur when people try to approach or feed wild animals, or in some cases, are attacked by rabid animals such as foxes, bobcats, and skunks. Most rabies exposures can be avoided by simply leaving bats and other wild animals alone.
How can rabies be prevented?
A simple vaccine from your vet will help ensure the health of you and your pet. Dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other domestic pets should be vaccinated. Arizona law requires dogs to be vaccinated against rabies and licensed.
Get your pet protected! The Arizona Pet Vet FREE Vaccines for Life program can help keep your pets safe from infectious diseases. Find more information here.
Dogs are special, so why not celebrate National Dog Week by doing something special for your furry buddies? Here are some fun ideas:
1/ Treat your pup to a new toy!
Take them to your favorite pet store, and let them pick out a new toy. If it’s a plush toy, you already know it’s not likely to last long, especially if it has a squeaker. Let your pup go to town on it and make a glorious mess – or consider a different type of toy. Interactive toys have compartments for treats. Your dog will have to work to get the treat, keeping them engaged and occupied for hours at a time.
2/ Get outside together and explore the world!
Cooler weather is finally here! Whether it’s a walk around the neighborhood on a leash or a run at the dog park, make a promise to take your dog out to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds all around you. It’s good for you both!
3/ Treat your dog to a spa day or grooming session.
Baths and grooming can be challenging with dogs because there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium. They either love the attention or hate it with a passion. Professional groomers can not only get your pooch looking and smelling great, they can also help with teeth cleaning, nail clipping and anal gland evacuation (don’t try this at home – it’s icky – trust us).
4/ Have a pet party!
Invite friends and neighbors to bring their dogs over for a pet party. Be sure to have plenty of fresh treats and lots of toys to play with – the dogs are bound to have a blast!
5/ Schedule a health check-up.
While it’s not as fun as play time or treats, it’s important for pups to get regular healthcare and annual shots to protect them from disease, so they should see the vet at least once a year. As your pet gets older, more frequent check-ups can help identify any health changes so that they can be treated and managed before they become serious. After all, you want them around for as long as possible.
Emergency situations can arise at any time, and nobody is immune. This is why it’s so important to have a plan in place for your family and your pets.
Aside from children and the elderly, pets are our most vulnerable family members, and they are completely dependent on us to keep them safe. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to look at ways you can prepare for emergencies and natural disasters.
We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The devastation is unimaginable. Many have also seen the reports of pets left to fend for themselves or lost in the flood waters, which is distressing for everyone. Advance planning can take much of the worry out of disaster preparedness.
Know what disasters could affect your area, which could call for an evacuation and when to shelter in place.
Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to your local emergency station and monitor TV, radio, and follow mobile alert and mobile warnings about severe weather in your area.
Download the FEMA app, receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.
Make a Plan
Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today. If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:
Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
Have your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet’s medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!
September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, but what does that really mean? We all sincerely believe we’d know if something were wrong with our pets, but the truth is, many of us will miss the signals.
Would you recognize the most common signs of pain in your pet ?
Behavioral and other changes are the ways our animals communicate to us that there is something wrong and they need help. Here’s what you need to watch for:
Common Signs of Pain in Dogs
Decreased social interaction
Refusal to move
Changes in posture
Common Signs of Pain in Cats
Loss of appetite
Quiet/loss of curiosity
Changes in urinary/defecation habits
Hissing or spitting
Lack of agility/jumping
Stops grooming/matted fur
If your pet is exhibiting one or more of these behaviors, it’s best to take them in for a wellness exam. There are many options available to treat pain in animals including: pain medications, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, laser therapy, and therapeutic massage.Your vet can provide insight into what’s happening, and discuss your treatment options.