What is Aussie Flu In Dogs?
Canine influenza (dog flu) is caused by a type ‘A’ influenza virus called canine influenza virus (CIV). Similar to the flu virus of humans, different strains of flu virus are found. Two strains of the virus have been identified to cause CIV: CIV H3N8 (equine origin) and H3N2 (avian origin).
These viruses are highly infectious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs (unless they are vaccinated).
The H3N2 strain (influenza A virus) - has been dubbed Aussie flu because it is the same strain that wreaked havoc in Australia. Dogs infected with the Aussie flu strain seem to be at greater risk of developing more severe clinical signs.
Canine influenza can be contracted by being in close contact with other dogs (like in dog parks, kennels), through contaminated objects (food and water bowls, toys, leashes and collar) and nasal secretions via airborne droplets (through coughing, sneezing or barking).
Even though there is no evidence that canine flu viruses passing on to humans, influenza viruses can mutate rapidly, and there is a dangerous possibility that at some point in the future, genes that govern infectivity in dogs may mutate and may infect humans.
Symptoms Of Aussie Flu In Dogs
Just like when you get the flu, your dog also sneeze, have a runny nose, and cough. Almost 20% of dogs with the canine flu don’t show any symptoms.
- Productive cough (‘moist’) or non-productive (‘dry’)
- Runny nose
- Purulent nasal discharge.
- Labored breathing
- Decreased appetite
Treatment Options For Aussie Flu In Dogs
- There is no definitive or specific treatment for Aussie flu or canine flu in dogs. There is currently no approved CIV vaccine in Australia.
- Supportive Treatments are aimed at stimulating the affected dog's immune system to fight the infection.
- Dogs that have complications (bacterial infection and pneumonia at the same time) may need antibiotics or other medications.
- Secondary bacterial infections may require additional testing and take longer to clear up.
Home Remedies For Aussie Flu In Dogs
- Feed small, soft, strong-smelling foods
Provide softer and strong-smelling foods to make their food more appealing.
- Make sure they stay hydrated.
Anti-infectious and immune-supporting herbs such as echinacea, Oregon grape, goldenseal, marshmallow, cats claw, astragalus, ginger, lemon balm, olive leaf, and oregano leaf are some of our favorites.
- Steam up the bathroom by running a hot shower.
- Run hot water in the shower with the door closed for 10 minutes or so. You can also use essential oils (like eucalyptus or peppermint oil) or a good vaporizer like Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier.
- And finally Good old-fashioned rest in Pet-safe heating pads.
How to Prevent Aussie Flu In Dogs?
- The canine influenza vaccine is not mandatory like the rabies vaccine, this is a lifestyle vaccine.
- Whether your dog needs it or not will depend on the risk of exposure, dogs in virus prevalent regions, and overall health.
- Vaccination may be required for older dogs, Immunocompromised dogs, brachycephalic dogs, and those with heart and respiratory conditions may be at higher risk.
- Indoor dogs that have no contact with other dogs may not require vaccines.
- Although these flu shots may not altogether prevent infection, they may decrease the duration of clinical illness and severity.
2. Disinfection and Cleaning: this is an important first step of prevention. This actually removes the majority of contaminants.
Basically any routine clinic or kennel disinfectant will kill the influenza virus. However, it's a good idea to use a broad range of disinfectant that destroys most of the virus (Our recommendation- accelerated hydrogen peroxide).
3. Wash your hands after petting the infected dog:
While the dog influenza virus has not mutated enough till now to contract humans, they can spread it to other dogs by contact or you may infect the other dogs. If you cant help petting dogs you see, Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after playing with dogs.
4. Isolate your dog
when you suspect a dog has flu, keep them isolated from other dogs until symptom-free to prevent the spread of the virus.
5. Recovery: Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks if they are provided with good care and medical attention as needed.
Affected Dog Breeds Of Aussie Flu
Dogs of any breed, age, sex are susceptible to canine flu.
Brachycephalic Breeds, Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, Boxer, Pekingese, Pug, Shih Tzu
Additional Facts On Aussie Flu In Dogs
Clinical signs of infection for Aussie flu usually appear in 2 - 8 days, while those infected with H3N8 may start showing signs between 1 - 5 days.
Usually severity of Aussie flu is high. Most dogs recover within 3 weeks; still, they can continue to be contagious to other dogs for up to 4 weeks. The mortality rate of Aussie flu is very small.
Canine influenza may persist in the environment for a day or two, 12 hrs in hands, 24 hrs on clothing for up to 24 hours. Survival for 24 hrs is possible on surfaces like stainless steel and plastic.
Many disinfectants commonly used in veterinary hospitals and shelters can easily kill the flu virus (bleach solutions at a 1 to 30 dilution, potassium peroxymonosulfate or quaternary ammonium compounds).
The most common clinical sign associated with Aussie flu is a harsh, dry cough that may be followed by gagging (similar to Kennel Cough) lasting for 1-3 weeks. Usually this does not respond to cough suppressant therapy or antibiotics.
There is a vaccine for the H3N8 strain and for the H3N2 strain, and a bivalent vaccine that covers both strains in one shot is also available.
When To See A Vet For Aussie Flu In Dogs?
Dog flu symptoms may look confusing as the symptoms are similar to other viral infections such as canine coronavirus, canine distemper and adenovirus type 2.
More importantly, Kennel Cough (highly infectious respiratory disease by B.bronchiseptica) and the Influenza Virus both present themselves the same way.
Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian as soon as you notice the symptoms as some conditions can be very serious (and possibly fatal).
It is always check with your vet if vaccination is appropriate for their dog.
Dog Food Suggestions For Aussie Flu
Dietary management of Aussie flu in dogs:
- Brown rice, lukewarm (never hot) chicken soup with Low sodium or chicken breast, and cooked vegetables are perfect for an ailing pup.
- Add a couple of spoonfuls of salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, or another fish product to your dog's food.
- Too much-canned fish is bad for a sick pup. A small quantity to tempt an unwell pet to eat is usually ok.
- Shredded chicken with a carrot stick.
- Meat-flavored baby food or bland food.
- Semi-moist pet food with boiled chicken.
Take all pet flu and related illnesses seriously. If your dog has an Aussie flu and symptoms get worse, it's important to give him proper medical attention. Make sure to take him to a vet to check their symptoms more thoroughly.