influenza, or dog flu, is a newly emerging disease of dogs. It is a highly
contagious respiratory infection that is caused by the canine influenza virus.
The virus is closely related to the equine influenza and may indeed be a mutant
of the latter.
are two clinical forms - mild and severe. Dogs with the mild form develop a
cough lasting 10 to 30 days. The cough is similar to "kennel cough"
and may be misty and soft or dry. In fact, canine influenza may be misdiagnosed
as kennel cough. (Kennel cough is caused by the bacterium Bordetella
bronchiseptica and by parainfluenza virus.). Many of the dogs with the mild
form develop a thick yellow/greenish nasal discharge. The severe form of canine
influenza is characterized by high fevers (104ºF to 106ºF), depression and
pneumonia. The disease however has low mortality rate.
virus is new to the immune system of the dog population and will affect
virtually all dogs that are exposed to the virus. Luckily, most dogs are
affected by the mild form.
disease was first recognized in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in
Florida. Since then it spread rapidly around the nation, involving animal
shelters, humane societies, rescue groups, pet stores, boarding kennels, and
is no vaccine for the disease. Dogs that are boarding and those which are taken
to the dog parks, pet stores or any other dog-crowded location are at high risk.
dogs are treated with supportive care (fluid, nutrition etc.) and antibiotics to
control secondary bacterial infections. New antiviral medications help reduce
the severity of the disease. Dogs with the severe form may require in-hospital
intensive care and other measures to overcome the pneumonia.
influenza virus has a high mutation rate and undergoes structural changes
continuously. That makes vaccine development very challenging.
is very likely that many dogs will contract the dog flu in the near future.
Minimizing exposure to dog-crowded areas is the only way to reduce the chances