Flu in dogs
Dog flu was first diagnosed with Greyhounds in January 2004, used for dog racing in Florida. Comparable flu epidemics had been seen in previous years, but the cause had not yet been established. These dogs are infected with a virus that originally comes from horses (H3N8).
Since that time, the virus is slowly but surely spreading across the United States.
In the United Kingdom too, dog flu has been detected in a kennel. There are no publications from the mainland of Europe yet.
The chance that your dog has flu is small
The symptoms of dog flu are very similar to the common kennel cough and the less common canine disease.
Does this cold dog have flu?
Because it is a new virus and therefore there is no specific resistance in the population, all animals that come into contact with the virus will become infected.
Approximately 80% of these animals will show disease symptoms:
soft dry or wet cough (10-30 days)
nasal outflow: more or less thick, with some pus and possibly some blood mixing
After a week 10-20% of the dogs will become sicker:
About 1-5% of the dogs will die after a first infection.
Dog flu or any other virus?
The suspicion of dog flu can arise if:
a dog is included in the group that comes from an area where dog flu occurs
more than half of the dogs get flu symptoms
all ages are affected. In case of distemper and kennel cough, only puppies are the victims
well-vaccinated animals also become ill (in the Netherlands there is no standard vaccination against dog flu)
The treatment of dog flu
There is no specific treatment for dog flu.
Antibiotics are prescribed in severely ill dogs to treat secondary infections with bacteria.
May be prescribed in humans in the first 48 hours after infection. In dogs we are almost always too late to prescribe this medication. Medicines such as Tamiflu® are intended to reduce the number of deaths in people with a new flu outbreak. Abuse in other animal species can undermine the effectiveness of this medication.
Dog flu is contagious
Dog flu is very contagious for other dogs. There is no danger to humans or other animal species.
Two to five days after infection, most dogs will become ill. Before becoming ill, infected dogs can spread large amounts of viruses and infect other dogs.
A week after infection, the infected animal does not excrete viruses. Because the virus can survive a week in the area, it is wise to keep (possibly) infected animals in quarantine for 2 weeks.
The virus spreads mainly through nasal discharge and small coughed drops. The virus can easily spread through clothing, feeders, etc.
Disinfection in dog flu
The flu virus can survive a week in the environment. With good cleaning and disinfection the virus is easy to kill. The virus is sensitive to all disinfectants.
Vaccination against dog flu
To make an animal less prone to infection, a vaccine is available. The vaccine must be repeated after 2 to 4 weeks. The vaccine does not give 100% protection.
To diagnose the diagnosis of dog flu
The diagnosis of dog flu (H3N8) can be made on the basis of laboratory tests for nasal discharge or blood. A false-negative test can occur.
Dogs flu does not occur in Europe yet. Kennel cough and distemper may be like flu
Bird flu in dog, cat, tiger and leopard
Felines seem more sensitive to avian flu than dogs.
In 2005, 147 of 441 tigers died in a Thai zoo.
In South Korea there was an outbreak of avian influenza among dogs in 2007, which in turn infected cats.
Because bird flu is also detected in the Netherlands, it can not be ruled out that dogs and cats can also infect themselves here.