There is a canine influenza outbreak affecting over 1,000 dogs in Chicago and the mid west. The virus that causes canine influenza or dog flu, Influenza Type A (H3N8), was first identified in Florida in 2004. This illness generally affects the respiratory system and is easily spread from dog to dog. Some dogs can be exposed to the virus and fight off infection without showing any clinical signs, but left untreated this disease may advance to other health problems and require hospitalization.
Symptoms and Types
Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different syndromes:
- Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. Occasionally, it will be more of a dry cough. In most cases, the symptoms will last 10 to 30 days and usually will go away on its own.
- Severe – Generally, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop signs very quickly. Pneumonia, specifically hemorrhagic pneumonia, can develop. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, so the dog may cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs). Patients may also be infected with bacterial pneumonia, which can further complicate the situation.
General signs of these syndromes include coughing, sneezing, anorexia and fever. Red and/or runny eyes and a runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In most cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus. If your dog has any symptoms of canine influenza contact your veterinarian immediately.