Dog owners in the Midwest are being urged to keep their dogs indoors and in their yards to prevent exposure to the latest canine flu virus. The new virus does not have a vaccine and is highly contagious. Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana have been especially hard hit.
In April, the CDC issued an update on the virus, stating that it is not clear if this is a new flu virus or is a mutation of an older virus. This version of the canine flu is especially contagious because of the new mutation, most dogs have not been previously and have not built up an immunity. The bad news is that the rate of infection after exposure is almost 100%.
The virus is so infectious that animal shelters and Humane Societies in Chicago have quit taking dogs into the programs and have ceased adoptions. Dog parks have been closed to try to stop the outbreak. Shelters have to treat dogs that get kennel cough daily and are not prepared for the infectious nature of the canine flu or how quickly it spreads.
Dog flu starts out a lot like kennel cough, but this virus can progress to include a temperature of 104-106 degrees. Like humans, the flu can cause dogs to have runny noses, achy muscles, cough, sneezing, and stuffy head. Dogs should be closely monitored, as the infection can become bronchitis or pneumonia. Also, dogs can acquire the virus and show no symptoms but can still transmit the virus to other dogs.
If your dog gets the flu, make sure they get plenty of food and water. If he/she refuses their regular food, feed them boiled chicken and baby food. Avoid over-the- counter medications unless recommended by your veterinarian. A dog with the flu can take anywhere from one week to thirty days to recover and the dog is contagious for up to two weeks.
As of now, the only sure way to prevent a dog from getting the flu is to keep the dog from being exposed.