Is Dog Flu a Thing? Canine Influenza: Understanding the Virus and Testing

Is Dog Flu a Thing? Canine Influenza: Understanding the Virus and Testing

Dr. Michelle Frye
4 minute read

Canine influenza, also known as dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs. Understanding the virus, its symptoms, and available testing options is crucial for every responsible pet owner. The following is essential information about canine influenza and the importance of testing to protect your dog's health.

What is Canine Influenza?
Canine influenza is caused by two strains of the influenza virus: H3N8 and H3N2. These viruses primarily affect dogs and can cause respiratory infections with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Canine influenza is highly contagious and spreads rapidly in environments where dogs come into close contact with one another.

The symptoms of canine influenza may include:
  • Coughing, which can be persistent and may resemble a "honking" sound
  • Sneezing and nasal discharge
  • Lethargy and reduced appetite
  • Fever (although not all infected dogs exhibit fever)
  • Eye discharge (in some cases)

It's important to note that some dogs may show mild symptoms or be asymptomatic carriers, making it crucial to identify and prevent the spread of the virus.

Canine influenza is primarily transmitted through respiratory secretions and direct contact with infected dogs. The virus can also spread indirectly through contaminated surfaces, objects, and people who have come into contact with infected dogs. Areas such as dog parks, kennels, and shelters pose a higher risk of transmission due to the close proximity of dogs.

Testing for Canine Influenza:
Testing for canine influenza is important for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management. Here are the two main types of tests used for canine influenza:

1. PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) Test:

PCR testing is a molecular diagnostic technique that detects the presence of viral genetic material. This test can identify specific strains of canine influenza virus and is highly accurate. It is usually performed on swabs collected from the respiratory tract or other samples such as nasal discharge or eye secretions. Kedi Labs offers the affordable Spectra PCR: Respiratory Infection panel for easy and rapid detection of CIV and all other critical causes of upper respiratory infections in dogs.

2. Serological Test:

Serological testing involves analyzing blood samples to detect antibodies produced in response to the canine influenza virus. This test can determine if a dog has been exposed to the virus in the past or has developed immunity. However, it may not be suitable for diagnosing acute infections or detecting current viral shedding.

3. Rapid Antigen Testing:

Antigen Rapid Test is an immunochromatographic assay designed for veterinary use in dogs. The Kedi Labs Canine Influenza rapid test is intended for the qualitative detection of CIV antigen in canine secretions from the nasal cavity.

Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial to determine the most appropriate testing method based on your dog's symptoms and situation.

Preventing the spread of canine influenza is key to protecting your dog and others. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  • Vaccination: Talk to your veterinarian about the availability of canine influenza vaccines. Vaccination can help reduce the severity of symptoms and limit the spread of the virus.
  • Isolation and quarantine: If your dog is showing symptoms or has been diagnosed with canine influenza, keep them isolated from other dogs to prevent transmission.
  • Good hygiene practices: Practice proper hand hygiene after handling dogs, especially those with respiratory symptoms. Clean and disinfect surfaces, bedding, and toys regularly to minimize the risk of virus transmission.
  • Avoidance of crowded areas: During outbreaks or in high-risk situations, consider limiting your dog's exposure to crowded places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks or boarding facilities.
Treatment and Management:

If your dog is diagnosed with canine influenza, your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate treatment plan based on the severity of symptoms. Treatment usually involves supportive care to alleviate symptoms, such as rest, proper nutrition, and medication to address secondary infections if necessary. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required

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