Dog flu cases were confirmed in North and South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia among other states in the country. The H3N2 or dog flu virus is rearing its ugly head throughout the southern part of the United States.
However, unlike bird flu, the H3N2 virus cannot affect human beings but may make pet dogs sick if the animal comes into contact with other canines carrying the virus. Dogs usually do not show any symptoms of the flu externally, which makes it difficult for pet owners to detect if something is wrong.
Dog Flu Symptoms And Infection Chances
If a pet is exposed to another infected with the dog flu virus, then it is almost certain that the canine would get infected. This is because most of the dogs in the country are not vaccinated against flu. The infection may also be indirectly caused by people who were previously in contact with another dog that contracted the disease.
If an infected dog coughs or sneezes on a human being, the infection can survive on the human skin for two minutes, whereas it can survive for well over a day on clothing, from where it can infect a healthy dog.
Symptoms of the disease do not show up in 20 percent of the dogs, which makes it even more dangerous. These dogs become the germ's carriers, but cannot be treated as they themselves are not sick.
Other dogs who show symptoms usually experience a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, similar to the flu symptoms in humans.
How To Protect Your Pet From Dog Flu
Flu cases in dogs can be prevented if a little precaution is taken. These preventive methods will ensure that your dog does not get infected with the H3N2 virus.
The first thing to remember is to keep your own dog away from other canines, even if the other pets appear healthy and devoid of any flu-like signs. It is also important to remember that although humans cannot be affected by the H3N2 virus, they can still transfer it to other canines. So, it is advisable to wash your hands after handling other dogs and before touching your own pet. The same goes for your clothes.
The dog flu virus can survive up to 48 hours on hard surfaces. So, it is important to disinfect the surface which may have come in contact with an infected pup. This ensures that the virus does not spread to the healthy pet.
Vaccination may be the most effective way of protecting your dog against the virus. However, make sure that the vet clinic to which you are taking your dog is properly disinfected, and that your pet does not come in contact with other dogs carrying the disease. Two shots of the vaccine are given two to four weeks apart and almost guarantee to keep dogs safe.