A Dangerous New Type of Canine Flu: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Dog

Symptoms of the New Flu

The symptoms for H3N2 are like those of H3N8. They include lots of coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. There are reports that many dogs infected by the H3N2 strain develop pneumonia, but it is not known if this virus causes more pneumonia than the H3N8 virus.

Dr. Crawford emphasizes that if you suspect your dog has the canine flu, you should call your veterinarian first and explain the situation. Don’t just head to the clinic, because you could be putting other dogs in the practice at risk. Your vet may want to make special arrangements to see your dog.Then, you need to isolate your dog to protect other dogs from catching the virus.

She also notes that the H3N8 dog flu virus is still circulating, mainly in the Northeast. Owners of dogs living there or traveling to the Northeast should talk with their veterinarian about whether their dog should be vaccinated for this strain of the virus.There are diagnostic tests available to determine what kind of respiratory illness a dog has including the canine flu. “You cannot tell what is causing the dog’s respiratory infection by clinical signs — you can only tell by diagnosing with a test,” Dr. Crawford says.

Unlike the human flu, there is not a flu season, and dogs have an “equal opportunity” to become infected. Dr. Crawford does say that dog breeds with very short noses (such as Pugs, Pekingese, and Boston Terriers) often struggle more with any respiratory illness and may be monitored more closely.

Treatment Protocols

Your veterinarian will guide you on what is best for your dog, and you should follow her treatment protocol precisely. But in general, dogs who are diagnosed with canine influenza need to rest, maintain their fluid and food intake, and remain isolated from other dogs until they are no longer infectious. This could take 10 to 14 days. Your veterinarian is likely to prescribe antibiotics to avoid the onset of a secondary bacterial infection. Dogs with the flu are more at risk of developing pneumonia, which could require hospitalization.

“Most of these cases do recover after two weeks or so without any complications, but I was in Chicago last week and I saw a lot of sick dogs — and I saw several dogs with pneumonia,” Dr. Crawford says.Having this “confusing landscape” for canine flu makes things hard for American dog owners.

Keep in mind that those in areas where cases have been documented should take extra precautions, because dogs can be contagious for a few days without showing clinical symptoms, Dr. Crawford warns.

“For dog owners, it boils down to avoiding situations that may put their dog at risk for exposure,” Dr. Crawford stresses.

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