Dog Flu: Today most dog owners want a pro-active strategy to protect their pet’s health. That’s especially true when outbreaks of contagious diseases like Dog Flu are lurking in your neighborhood. Perhaps the local dog park, a nearby kennel, your doggie day care facility or groomer is the source? Reports of Dog Flu cases in Chicago, New York City and Texas have been ongoing and the virus recently reached Ohio. Pet owners need not panic, nor run to their veterinarian for a dog flu vaccine that promises far more than it actually delivers. Let’s look at Dog Flu facts!
What is Dog Flu?
Dog Flu is caused by a virus called Canine Influenza Type A. This year the virus is an Asian strain labelled H3N2.
How is Dog Flu Spread?
The virus is highly contagious and is spread between infected dogs primarily through coughing and sneezing secretions. Note that contaminated toys, food and water bowls as well as clothing also spread the virus. The good news is that the virus doesn’t live long in the environment so practicing good personal hygiene for example washing your hands with soap is helpful to minimize spread.
What are the Signs of Dog Flu?
The signs are similar to people with the flu: 80% of dog flu cases are mild. A deep, hacking cough along with sneezing in an otherwise healthy dog are the primary signs.
In severe cases, in addition to coughing and sneezing, dogs also have a fever, generally up to 104, lethargy and loss of appetite.
What Steps Should Dog Owners Take if Dog Flu is suspected?
First don’t panic! Isolate your dog and call your veterinarian. Together you and your vet will determine which type of flu your dog has; mild or severe and make up a treatment plan accordingly.
How is Dog Flu Diagnosed?
Veterinarians diagnose Dog Flu based on clinical signs and laboratory testing. Testing consists of 2 swabs: your vet will swab your dog’s nose and throat and send this into the lab to obtain a Definitive Diagnosis.
How is Dog Flu Treated?
There are no specific anti-viral drugs to treat Dog Flu so vets generally offer supportive care which consists of isolation, rest, good nutrition and fluids. Most mild cases self-limit and heal within 10-30 days with or without therapy.
Severe Dog Flu cases usually require hospitalization. These dogs are isolated to prevent further spread of the virus. In addition, most dogs require intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and are given antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. 5% of cases are fatal; these dogs generally fall victim to secondary bacterial pneumonia.
How is Dog Flu Prevented?
Practice good personal hygiene, for example wash your hands well with soap and change your clothes if you’ve been handling an infected dog.
Avoid places where dogs congregate including kennels, doggie day care facilities, rescues, groomers and dog parks.
If you think your dog may have contracted the flu keep him isolated from other dogs until the signs subside.
Consider natural home remedies that act as immune system boosters & help ward off viruses:
*Vitamin C: 500mg 3 times a day and for smaller dogs 30 pounds and under use half that amount
Colostrum: 500mg per 25 pounds of body weight
*Locally grown or Manuka Honey: ½-1 teaspoon given by mouth 3-4 times a day acts as a natural cough suppressant. Immune boosting herbs including turmeric and oregano can be mixed into a honey ball that most dogs love.
*Coconut Oil mixed with Honey: 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 4 times a day. This mixture acts as a natural cough suppressant and in addition has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties.
*Steep a Pot of Tea: Mix 1 tablespoon of Licorice root with 2 cups of cold water, boil the solution, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add 1 tablespoon of honey to each tablespoon of licorice and give 2 tablespoons to your dog before each meal.
Aromatherapy: Diffuse a solution of colloidal silver with lemon balm. This combo is an immune stimulant and fights infections.
*Diffuse Essential Oils: Mix 3 drops of these essential oils: Cinnamon, Eucalyptus and Lavender with ½ ounce (15cc) of distilled water and place the solution in your diffuser.
**Note: Vaccines: there is a dog flu vaccine available however it is not effective against the current H3N2 dog flu strain. The vaccine made by Merck called Novobac is effective for the H3N8 flu virus strain that caused the canine flu epidemic in 2011. The current kennel cough vaccine given intranasally or by squirting it up your dog’s nose is in this veterinarians experience a good idea and offers a local boost of immunity against certain upper respiratory bacteria and viruses.
Original Story: 19 Action News
About the Author:
Integrative veterinarian and author, Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM is the medical director of Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She is accepting new patients and sees dogs and cats.
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