Canine influenza or canine influenza is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease. Knowing the symptoms and taking a few simple steps will help protect your dog when traveling together.
Unlike human flu, canine flu is not a seasonal disease. Dogs can become infected at any time of the year. The first cases were discovered in the United States in 2004, now Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and North Dakota are the only states without reported cases of canine flu.
So how can you protect your pets when traveling together? First, you need to find out how canine flu is transmitted and where pets are most often infected.
How dog flu spreads
Like human flu, canine flu spreads when dogs cough, sneeze and bark. Licking, sniffing and sharing objects such as food and water bowls also allow the virus to pass from dog to dog. Even petting an infected dog and then touching your own dog before washing your hands can make it sick!
READ MORE ⇒ How to find out if your dog has a fever
The virus is durable and can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours. What makes it difficult is that dogs are most contagious during the incubation period of the virus – before they start to show symptoms. And only 80% of infected dogs show symptoms at all, although they can still spread the virus.
Protect your pet by avoiding contact with infected dogs
The good news is that despite its frequent occurrence, canine flu is not widespread. Epidemics usually involve a small percentage of the total dog population in an area. And with a few simple adjustments to your travel plans, you can seriously reduce your dog’s chances of being infected.
Most likely, dogs catch the flu in places where pets gather. So you can protect your dog by avoiding dog parks, beaches, day care centers, kennels and boarding houses, and make-up artists.
READ MORE ⇒ How to check your dog’s heart rate, respiration and temperature
The virus can also be infected with public water vessels if they have been used by a dog that has the virus. Carrying a clean, foldable bowl and bottle of water for your dog eliminates this possibility.
Finally, anyone who has had contact with an infected dog and then is your dog’s pet can pass on the flu. So, if you are in an area with an outbreak of dog flu, just ask strangers not to pet your puppy.
Watch for signs
The symptoms of canine flu are cough, runny nose and breathing problems. Dogs may also experience sneezing, lethargy, or decreased appetite. And in some cases, you will see discharge from your dog’s nose and / or eyes and she may have a fever.
While most dogs recover fully with basic maintenance care, a small number have developed pneumonia. Pneumonia can be fatal, so call your veterinarian immediately if your dog develops any symptoms.
If your dog shows symptoms of canine flu, contact your veterinarian immediately. If an office visit is required, they may ask your dog to stay in the car rather than in the waiting area to avoid exposing other dogs.
READ MORE ⇒ What you need to know about emergency veterinarians (before you need one)
Before you go on the road
Before your next trip, talk to your veterinarian about the spread of canine flu where you will be traveling. Discuss any plans to use a boarding house or kindergarten for your pet and whether you will visit dog parks and beaches. Also consider any additional health problems that could affect your dog’s natural immune response to the virus.
There is a vaccine against canine flu that can reduce the severity and duration of the disease. But you will have to plan ahead! It takes two shots, spaced two to four weeks apart, followed by annual boosters. And vaccinations come with their own risks and side effects, so be sure to weigh all the pros and cons.
Currently, some boarding schools and kindergartens require canine influenza vaccinations. Others do not accept dogs outside their local area or require that they have not been exposed to other dogs for two weeks before visiting. If you plan to use a nursery or boarding pass, be sure to make plans in advance and understand their policies regarding traveling dogs.
Additional resources for dog flu
Additional information on canine flu is available here:
Disclosure: I am not a veterinarian. Dog flu is a condition I am learning about to protect my dog as we travel. I hope you can take advantage of this information as well. If you suspect that your pet has canine flu, seek veterinary help immediately.
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