Dog owners throughout the nation are worried as a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease among dogs has been keeping a lot of veterinarians very busy caring for sick pets. The dog flu, also called the canine influenza virus, is a new strain of virus and at the present time there is no vaccination for it. According to the director of the animal virology lab at Cornell University, “One hundred percent of dogs will be susceptible.”
It has been discovered by those researching this new disease that this particular strain of flu has been very commonly seen in horses for the past forty years but has now made the jump to dogs, thus prompting the name, dog flu. The strain of influenza that afflicts horses is known as H3N8 and tests have proven that the dog flu is almost identical.
Dog flu was first diagnosed earlier this year in Greyhounds at a number of racetracks in approximately eleven states, beginning with Florida. Veterinarians incorrectly believed at the onset that it was a common illness among dogs known as kennel cough but have since discovered that it is a great deal more serious than the less dangerous bacterial infection. Kennel cough is characterized by a hacking cough. Besides the state of Florida, documented cases of dog flu have been found in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington.
The symptoms of dog flu include a soft, moist cough, a low-grade fever, nasal discharge, general lethargy and lack of energy, rapid, shallow breathing, and loss of appetite. Dogs who have contracted dog flu are at a much greater risk of contracting pneumonia but the big difference between the two is that pneumonia can be easily treated with antibiotics and an increase in fluid intake whereas the dog flu cannot.
The outbreak is steadily rising throughout the country and many dog lovers are concerned about their pet’s immediate health. It is not extremely clear how many dogs’ lives this disease has claimed but a rough estimate is around five percent. The great majority of these dogs were young and for all intents and purposes, healthy.
Some say the hype is blown out of portion. Researchers believe that of all of the dogs that will come down with the flu, eighty percent of them will suffer a mild case of it while others will be at risk for the disease to become serious and in the severest of cases, pneumonia and hemorrhaging in the respiratory tract could occur and lead to fatalities.
So far no cases of dog flu have been detected in either human beings or cats. But important to note is that this disease can easily be spread much like the common cold and humans can pick it up from one dog and carry the disease and then transmit it to another dog.
The dog flu is most easily contracted in areas and at events where there is a large concentration of dogs. Examples of these spots include dog kennels, dog shows, animal shelters and parks.
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