Over the past month, Chicago has been plagued with an outbreak of the canine influenza virus, a respiratory infection that is highly contagious. While not contagious to humans, pet owners can pass the illness on to other dogs if they don’t take precaution.
WHAT IS CIV (H2N8)?
Canine influenza virus causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is often referred to as “dog flu”. CIV is a relatively new virus, so almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when they are newly exposed because they have not built up natural immunity. Most dogs that develop CIV infection have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require hospitalization.
Canine influenza is very contagious, meaning that it is easily spread from dogs that are currently infected to healthy dogs. CIV can pass from dog to dog through virus particles in the air (i.e. through coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs (touching noses). It can also be picked up if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (for example, food bowls, toys).
Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs. For example, they may spread the virus if they touch an infected dog, or even touch a toy or doorknob that the dog has contacted, and then touch another dog before washing their hands. For this reason, our sitters have been vigilant about keeping themselves and their hands clean before visiting a new pup.
SIGNS OF CIV
Be alert for the following signs, which are common in dogs with canine influenza:
• Mild, low-grade fever (103°F)
• Lethargy (tiredness)
• Loss of appetite
• Cough, which may be dry or may bring up sputum
• Runny nose with clear secretions at first, but may later change to a thick and yellow and/or pink-tinged color
If your dog shows any of these signs, contact your veterinarian and avoid taking your dog anywhere that other dogs may be exposed until she has made a full recovery.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND:
• Help prevent the spread of canine influenza by vaccinating your dog with an effective vaccine. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
• Steer clear of public dog parks until the city outbreak is under control.
• Do not allow your dog to drink out of public water bowls.
• If your dog has any of the signs of CIV infection, you should consider keeping him or her at home and avoid activities where other dogs can be exposed while your dog is coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease, usually for about 2 weeks.
• Keep your dog’s toys and food and water bowls clean.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and thank you helping us keep your babies safe!