Much like viral flu in people, canine influenza cannot be “cured” but instead must simply “run its course.” As for most viral diseases, treatment is largely supportive. Initially, affected animals should be isolated or otherwise closely managed for at least 7 to10 days after the onset of clinical signs, to prevent or at least minimize infection of other dogs. In mild cases, dogs should be managed at home rather than hospitalized, not only for comfort and cost considerations but also to prevent contaminating the veterinary hospital environment. Uncomplicated outpatient cases should be managed by enforced rest for at least 2 to 3 weeks. The dogs should be kept in a quiet, calm and familiar environment, and their activity should be restricted to going outside to “potty” only as necessary. They must be kept well-hydrated, with free access to fresh water, and should be fed a nutritious, palatable diet. Broad-spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed for dogs to prevent or control secondary bacterial infections. In mild cases involving a productive cough, cough suppressants normally are not recommended, because coughing is a normal and effective bodily mechanism for eliminating excessive respiratory secretions. Cough suppressants commonly are used for dogs with dry, non-productive coughs.
In more severe cases, where bronchopneumonia or other respiratory infection occurs, it may be appropriate to hospitalize the animal and provide intravenous antibiotic and fluid support. Dogs suffering from pneumonia may need enforced rest for several months and antibiotic therapy for several weeks after radiographic resolution of disease signs.
Some drugs are available and approved to treat viral influenza, but only in people. Use of such drugs in dogs is highly controversial, as their efficacy, side effects and safety in companion animals are unknown at this time.