What is canine influenza virus (CIV)?Canine influenza virus (CIV) causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is also known as dog flu. The infection is very contagious to other dogs. Common signs are fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, cough, and runny nose. Most dogs have a mild form of the infection, but some dogs may develop pneumonia and have a more serious course that requires hospitalization.How does CIV spread?Canine influenza is very contagious, meaning that it is easily spread from dogs that are currently infected to other dogs. CIV can pass from dog to dog through virus particles in the air (eg, through coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs (eg, touching noses). It can also be picked up if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (for example, food bowls, toys). Humans can even move the virus between dogs. For example, they may spread the virus if they pet an infected dog, or even touch a toy or doorknob that a dog has contacted, and then touch another dog before washing their hands.You can take important steps to minimize the spread of canine influenza:
Keep your dog at home if he or she has signs of a respiratory infection, and contact your veterinarian regarding appropriate care and evaluation.
Routinely wash your dog’s food and water bowls and toys with soap and water.
Sanitize your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wash your clothes after coming in contact with a dog that has signs of a respiratory infection.
Make sure the professionals you know who provide care for your dog(s) are knowledgeable about canine influenza and are taking appropriate precautions to minimize its spread.
Can CIV infect humans?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the situation and keeping close track of all exposures. To date, there is no evidence that CIV can infect humans, and there has not been a single reported case of a human being infected with CIV.In general, the canine influenza virus is considered to pose a low threat to humans. The virus infects dogs and spreads between dogs, and there is no evidence that this virus can infect humans. However, influenza viruses can change so that they can infect other animals, potentially including humans.For this reason, the CDC and its partners are monitoring CIV (as well as other animal influenza viruses) and any instances of possible human exposure to these viruses very closely. CIV is believed to have originated from an influenza A virus that infected horses, which changed to be able to cause infection in dogs.More information can be found on the
.How can I prevent my dog from getting CIV infection?The most important step is to vaccinate your dog, as viral disease is best prevented by effective vaccination.
There is a new vaccine available to control the spread of canine influenza virus and minimize its impact.
Just like human flu shots, this vaccine may not completely prevent canine influenza but will make it less likely. And if a vaccinated dog does get the flu, the signs are likely to be milder.If your dog exhibits any signs of respiratory disease (cough, runny nose, fever, decreased appetite), call your veterinarian.You should also stay aware of any information related to outbreaks of canine influenza in your area. Knowledge and common sense are your best defenses against canine influenza.What precautions should I take if I have to board my dog?You’ll need to do a little research before and after boarding. Start your investigation by talking with your veterinarian. Find out which facilities have the best record or reputation. When you find a boarding facility you like, check with the local Better Business Bureau or another authority to make sure no complaints have been filed against it.Next, tour the facility before you bring your beloved dog to stay there. Satisfy yourself that the boarding facility you choose is safe, clean, and comfortable, providing good care from knowledgeable, experienced staff. Before finishing your research visit, ask what plans the facility has in place to handle health emergencies, including disease outbreaks. Also, confirm that the facility requires all boarding animals to meet health standards. The facility should insist that animals are current on vaccinations, including protection against canine cough (Bordetella) and the new emerging virus, canine influenza H3N8.Make sure your dog is properly identified before dropping it off for boarding. Most facilities will provide a highly visible ID collar. Permanent identification, such as a microchip, is equally important. Be sure your pet’s registration and your contact information are kept up to date in a national pet recovery database. Boarding facilities should require owners to provide the name and contact information of the pet’s veterinarian and/or a signed release form authorizing medical care if there is a veterinarian on staff. Also, maintain your composure when dropping off and retrieving pets from boarding facilities so they can model your good behavior. Finally, after retrieving your pet from the facility, examine it closely for signs of fleas, scrapes or bruises, or illness, such as discharge from the eyes or nose.What are the signs of CIV infection?Dogs with CIV infection often have a cough that may be dry or productive (coughing up yellow sputum). They may act tired and lose their appetite. They may also have a clear nasal discharge that turns yellow or green.
A small percentage of dogs do not show any signs of CIV, but can still pass the infection to other dogs.
Most dogs have a mild course, but 10 to 20% have a more serious course and may develop pneumonia. These dogs may need to be hospitalized for a few days. Fortunately, few dogs die of canine influenza; mortality rates of 5 to 8% have been reported.Seeking appropriate care early may minimize this risk.If your dog has any of these signs, consult your veterinarian and avoid taking the dog anywhere that other dogs may be exposed (other than the veterinarian’s office if so instructed) until he or she has made a full recovery.What do I do if my dog has signs of CIV infection?If your dog shows signs of a respiratory infection such as coughing or runny nose, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can determine the cause of your dog’s signs and can prescribe safe medications to help your dog. It is never a good idea to treat your dog at home using human drugs, as many of these drugs have not been studied in dogs and may be harmful.If your dog is coughing or even just getting over a cough, you should keep your dog home for a couple of weeks. Most importantly, it gives your dog a chance to recover fully. And, in case he or she is contagious, it protects other healthy dogs and prevents spread of disease.How is CIV infection diagnosed?Your veterinarian can perform a quick test using a nasal swab in the office to determine if the infection is likely to be canine influenza. To get a definitive diagnosis, blood samples need to be tested for CIV at an outside laboratory. The veterinarian will collect a blood sample when you first take your dog into the clinic, and again in 2 or 3 weeks. It takes about 2 weeks for the results to return. In the meantime, your veterinarian can start appropriate treatment to make your dog more comfortable. At this time, there is no treatment specifically for viral infections.What are the treatment options for CIV infection?As with all viruses, there are no available drugs that kill CIV. The illness must simply run its course. Treatment options are focused on providing supportive care and making sure the dog is as comfortable as possible, hydrated, and eating well; those things will help boost the dog’s immune system so it can fight the virus on its own. Dogs that have nasal discharge or pneumonia signs are usually given an antibiotic because they are likely to have a secondary bacterial infection. Some dogs with more severe illness may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Contact your veterinarian if your dog has signs of a respiratory infection for recommendations regarding appropriate care and evaluation.Is my dog likely to die from CIV infection?Fortunately, the mortality rate for dogs with CIV infection is fairly low, about 5 to 8%. You should be aware that this may change as we learn more about CIV. In addition, it is important to seek veterinary care at the first signs of a respiratory infection in your dog because early treatment can result in better outcomes.