Dog flu is caused by a virus that infects the respiratory system. It's very contagious between dogs, and some dogs that become infected become very sick, while others just seem to be carriers and spread the virus without having any symptoms themselves. However, as it's possible for a dog to become gravely ill very quickly with this illness, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of dog flu and understand how it's diagnosed and treated. Read on to learn more about this condition.
Symptoms Of Dog Flu
Early symptoms of dog flu may be mild and can include a cough, red eyes, sneezing and nasal discharge. Symptoms can quickly become more serious and may include a high fever, laboured breathing and coughing up blood. Your dog will become lethargic and may lose their appetite. As the virus puts stress on your dog's respiratory system, they may develop a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, which can cause long-term damage to their respiratory system. Additionally, as dog flu can cause your dog to feel very tired and worn out, they may become withdrawn or irritable and seem uninterested in play or social contact.
How Dog Flu Is Diagnosed
Your vet will make their diagnosis by taking details of the symptoms you have observed and carrying out blood tests to check organ health and check for signs of flu, such as a raised white blood cell count. Diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray, will also be required to check the condition of your dog's respiratory system. If the blood tests and imaging point to dog flu, your vet may also want to carry out a bronchoscopy, which involves passing a thin tube into your dog's lungs to get a clearer look at the condition of the lungs. During this procedure, your vet can also take cell samples and analyse them for the presence of bacteria.
How Dog Flu Is Treated
A course of strong antibiotics may be used to help prevent a secondary bacterial infection, and your dog may need a long course of antibiotics if their symptoms become severe. Your vet may also prescribe a cough suppressant to help make your dog more comfortable and fluid therapy to keep them hydrated and support recovery. Your dog will likely have to stay at the clinic for a day or two until the vet is sure they are responding to treatment, and you will have to keep your dog apart from other dogs during treatment to prevent them from spreading the flu virus.
If your dog has any symptoms associated with dog flu, consult your vet right away.