Dog Flu Symptoms in Park Ridge, NJ: Everything You Need to Know

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Bird flu. Swine flu. It seems more and more illnesses every day are named for animals they affect. Is there a dog flu? Yes. There is a dog flu and Park Ridge, NJ pet owners need to know how it can be spread. Actually, there are two dog flus. The good news is they are canine-specific and there has been no known instance of a dog passing flu to humans.

dog flu symptoms in park ridge, nj

However, the same types of flu that make dogs sick can also affect cats and horses. The types of flu viruses that affect dogs are H3N8 (this type affects horses) and H3N2 (this is the type that affects cats as well). There are vaccines for these viruses, and they are usually given with your dog’s annual shots if your vet thinks they are at risk.

However, if not vaccinated, your dog can still get the flu, especially if they are young, are immunocompromised, or even if they haven’t received a full round of vaccines yet. It can be difficult to know if your dog has flu, especially as it has symptoms and signs that are similar to other diseases or conditions. If your pup is having any problems that we discuss below, it is best to talk to your vet for the best course of treatment.

What are some symptoms of dog flu in Park Ridge, NJ?

Well, they’re somewhat similar to the symptoms people get with the seasonal flu, and unfortunately it usually has to run its course before your dog will be back to normal. Unlike the human flu, the dog flu is not seasonal. Dogs can catch it year-round, especially if they are frequently in contact with other dogs.

It usually starts with sniffles or a cough and pups can run fevers. The flu can make dogs very sleepy or lethargic and they may have runny eyes or a runny nose (this can be clear or yellowish green).  Your dog may not want to eat at all, or their appetite may be decreased.

Sometimes dogs will have swollen, red, or itchy eyes, and they may rub their face on the carpet (or you!) to help alleviate these symptoms. The flu can also cause your dog’s immune system to weaken, and your pup could possibly also become sick with additional problems, like pneumonia.

If your dog has been diagnosed with the flu and seems to be getting sicker or starts having additional symptoms, contact your veterinarian quickly. Because the flu is very contagious (more on that in a second), let your vet know your dog has or may have the flu before you walk into the clinic. They may ask you to carry your dog in or ask you to use a different entrance to prevent the spread of the flu to young or vulnerable animals.

How long are dogs with the flu contagious?

Flu symptoms start to show up in around 2-4 days after exposure. Dog flu symptoms can be really similar to kennel cough (also known as Bordetella). Both kennel cough and the flu are very contagious between dogs, so it is best to keep your dog away from other dogs as much as you can until they start to feel better. (There is also a vaccine for Bordetella, and it is required for animals entering boarding facilities, just as the flu vaccine is).

Even shared bowls and bedding can spread the virus between dogs in the same house. The flu can be spread through the air or ventilation systems in rescues or kennels. Also note, dog flu or other contagious dog diseases can be spread to wild dogs like coyotes and wolves, so it is important to keep your dog isolated from areas these animals inhabit as well. And your dog could possibly catch a virus from other canid species as well.

Dogs can be contagious for 10-26 days with the flu. This means you should avoid dog parks, grooming facilities, or other facilities or areas with other dogs until you know your dog will not get others sick. Viruses can also be spread on your clothes, so take care when visiting friends with dogs, rescues, or other areas with dogs (especially puppies) if your dog has the flu.

You Can Help Prevent the Spread of Dog Flu in Park Ridge, NJ

Remember, this also means you can potentially carry the flu virus home to your dog as well. If you work in a facility with sick animals, like a vet clinic, rescue, or other facility, try to change clothes and shoes if you can before entering your home and place clothing directly in the laundry.

Normal detergent and hot water will kill the virus, but adding bleach is also an option if you are concerned. There are also special wipes, sprays, or cleaners that can be purchased through your vet or online that will kill viruses in your environment or on surfaces like your shoes.

These may be useful if you have multiple animals and one has the flu, or if you are concerned you may bring the virus home to a vulnerable animal.

How is dog flu treated and when do symptoms start going away?

Like in people, there is no cure for the dog flu. Antibiotics do not work on viral diseases like the flu. Supportive care, like fluid therapy or fever reducing medications, may be given. Your vet may provide you with special food or suggest things to entice your pup to eat.

The flu can cause your dog to become sick with additional illnesses, like bacterial infections. If your vet suspects a bacterial infection in addition to the flu, they may provide antibiotics at this point. Do not give any human medications to your dog.

Sometimes, your vet may provide you with special anti-viral medications for your dog if they become very ill. If your dog gets very sick or does not seem to be improving, they may need to be hospitalized. Even if your dog does become very sick with the flu, it is fatal only in about 10% of cases.

Contact Your Vet in Park Ridge, NJ if Your Dog Has Flu Symptoms

As the flu can be serious and lead to additional problems like pneumonia, it is best to contact your vet at the first onset of symptoms. In most cases, dogs that come down with the flu will have mild symptoms that bother them for a few weeks. Your veterinarian will help guide you to provide the best supportive care to keep your pup happy while the virus runs its course.

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