Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Does Your Dog Need a Flu Vaccination?

Does Your Dog Need a Flu Vaccination?

Canine flu is a relatively new strain of the influenza virus. It is thought to have originated from equine flu, which passed to Greyhounds and mutated into what is now a canine specific form of the virus. The questions for all dog owners are: Is my dog susceptible? What are the symptoms? And how can it be treated?

Is my Dog Susceptible to Canine Flu?

Since 2004, when canine flu first appeared, all dogs have been susceptible to it. However, as with any virus or disease, some people and animals are at a greater risk than others. As can be expected, older dogs, those with underlying health problems or an infection that compromises the immune system are more likely to contract the virus. In addition, dogs in these groups are likely to be affected badly by the virus and may contract secondary infections.

So, how does the virus spread? Well, as with all forms of influenza, the virus is passed from one animal to another. Therefore, your dog is at a greater risk of catching canine flu if he, or she, spends a lot of time in dog parks, kennels or veterinary surgeries. The virus can also be transferred by using the same food or water bowls as an infected dog. Alternatively, flu can be passed from one dog to another by human touch. Therefore, if you have handled a dog that appears unwell, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly.

Although it is currently believed that humans cannot contract canine flu, influenza viruses are constantly mutating, so, in time, it is not out of the realms of possibility that canine flu will effect humans. Currently though, we humans only need to worry about spreading the virus between dogs.

What are the Symptoms of Canine Flu?

Canine flu presents similarly to all other forms of the influenza virus. However, it is worth looking for subtle signs, as dogs may not appear 'unwell' until they are very sick. Symptoms that you may notice include:

    Lack of appetite
    A runny nose

Of course, these symptoms can also be a sign of kennel cough. However, in either case, it is wise to seek the assistance of a vet.

What is the Treatment for Canine Flu?

In most cases, dog flu is no different from flu in humans and will therefore pass within a few days to a week. However, as mentioned above, if your dog is already unwell or is elderly, there is a danger of contracting pneumonia, which could be fatal. Therefore, a large proportion of treatment for canine flu is guarding against secondary infection. This may mean a course of antibiotics and will almost certainly mean keeping the dog away from possible sources of infection, for example contact with other animals.

Other than that, treating canine flu is similar to treating human flu, it is simple a case of keeping the patient comfortable, rested and well-hydrated. Consequently, in the vast majority of cases a vaccine is unnecessary.

The canine flu vaccine has only been approved since 2009. It is given in the form of two injections, which must be administered three weeks apart. Unfortunately, this vaccine cannot prevent the infection of flu, but it will reduce the severity of the virus' affects.

At this time, The American Veterinary Medical Association does not advice vaccination in all dogs. Typically, it is only dogs that are at a greater risk, due to an already compromised immune system or those that are travelling to an infected area that are offered the vaccination. Therefore, if you think your dog may be particularly susceptible to flu and its affects, you should seek the advice of your vet.

Samantha Markham is a freelance writer, based in the UK. She is currently working for remmeer.com, an online supplier of unique pet products. Visit remmeer.com for a wonderful range of gifts for dogs and their owners, including dog breed treat jars and dog lover coffee mugs.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Samantha_Markham


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