Causes of Canine Influenza
“Dog flu” is caused by infection with the canine influenza virus. CIV is transmitted by inhalation of airborne respiratory secretions that contain viral particles. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. Reports suggest that the virus can survive in the environment and be infectious for up to 2 days. Given its mode of transmission, CIV tends to infect dogs that are in close contact with other dogs, as in boarding kennels, rescue shelters, humane societies, day-care facilities, dog shows or similar tight-group situations. Almost all exposed dogs become infected, and roughly 80% of infected dogs will develop signs of illness within several days.
Prevention and Control of Dog Flu
The canine influenza virus seems to be easily killed by common disinfectants, making good hygienic practices the first and best line of prevention. Dogs that have been exposed to sick dogs or that are showing clinical signs of respiratory distress should be isolated from other dogs until those signs resolve. Owners of dogs that are coughing should restrict their own contact with other dogs. The first canine influenza virus vaccine was approved for licensure by the USDA in May of 2009 and is available to help control clinical disease.
If your dog shows signs of coughing, nasal discharge and a moderate fever, contact your veterinarian immediately. Because CIV is so highly contagious, other dogs in the household are at high risk for developing the disease. Until you find out what is causing your dog’s symptoms, keep it isolated from other dogs and always wash your hands thoroughly after petting or touching your dog.