What is the dog flu?
The "dog flu" refers to Canine Influenza. Many different species can get an influenza virus. Those that can be infected include birds, pigs, horses, dogs, and humans. There are two strains of Canine Influenza: H3N8 and H3N2.
Is the dog flu in Central Florida?
Yes. Both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains have been found in the Central Florida area. Recently dogs who attended or were exposed to dogs who attended dog shows in Deland, Florida have tested positive for the virus.
What happens if my dog gets the dog flu?
Symptoms of the virus include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, decreased appetite, and lethargy. Symptoms may be worse during the first few days; however, the cough can persist for several weeks.
Is the dog flu treatable?
Yes and no. Influenza is a virus and, as a general rule, viruses must run their course. The symptoms that the virus causes can be treated, such as using a cough suppressant for coughing. Supportive care is given to dogs infected with the influenza virus.
How would my dog catch the dog flu?
If your dog frequents places where other dogs go, s/he could catch the dog flu. Kennels, day camps, dog parks, grooming parlors, dog shows, pet stores, even your veterinarian's office are all locations where a dog could pick up this virus. Unfortunately a coughing dog can send the virus 20 feet or more out into the air. The virus can also live in the environment (on clothing, bowls, kennels) for up to 24 hours.
My dog is vaccinated. Can he still get the flu?
Potentially. Many dogs have been vaccinated against the H3N8 strain of the virus. For Central Florida, the H3N2 strain is new. The first report of this strain was in Chicago in 2015. You would need to check with your veterinarian and ask which strains are included in the vaccine your dog was given. Also, much like the human flu vaccine, vaccinated dogs could still catch the flu; being vaccinated should lessen the symptoms.
Can I catch the flu from my dog?
There has been no evidence of H3N2 being transferred to people.
Can my cat catch the flu?
Reports of cats contracting H3N2 have been documented. These cats were in an isolated shelter environment. There was also evidence that H3N2 was passed from cat to cat (again in an isolated shelter environment). If you have a mixed pet household and your dog has symptoms of the flu, separating the sick dog from the rest of your pets would be advised. Take extra care to wash your hands and change your clothing after handling the sick pet to limit the potential spread of the virus to your other pets.