Kennel Cough Vs. Influenza Virus

Image showing the upper respiratory system of a dog

There’s nothing more important than your dog’s health. That’s why you must learn the signs and symptoms of two common canine ailments: kennel cough and influenza virus.

What are Kennel Cough and Influenza Virus?

Both ailments are highly contagious respiratory infections in dogs. Kennel Cough is a term used to describe multiple viruses or bacterial infections. Viruses under this umbrella term include Bordatella, Parainfluenza, and Adenovirus-2. Meanwhile, the Influenza Virus is caused by two specific virus strains. Neither of which are contagious to humans.

How do dogs contract these viruses?

These highly contagious viruses are easily spread between dogs. If your dog comes into contact with an infected dog’s body secretions,they could contract the virus. Whether directly (through sneezing, coughing, or barking) or indirectly (such as through a leash, collar, or water bowl). Take care when bringing your dog on outings or allowing them to play with other canines.

What are the symptoms?

Kennel Cough and the Influenza Virus both present themselves the same way. Typical symptoms include lethargy, a wet or dry cough, nasal discharge, and a mild fever. It is possible that your dog will only have one or a few of these symptoms if infected.

What should I do if I suspect my dog is sick?

Take them to your local veterinarian. Keep your dog out of daycare or other social settings for a minimum of 14 days. Kennel Cough and Influenza Virus can easily spread. Much like the human flu virus, dogs can be contagious several days before they present symptoms. If you suspect anything might be wrong, it is a good idea to temporarily suspend their exposure to other dogs.

What are the treatments?

Though there is no “cure” for a virus, the vet can prescribe medications. Cough suppressants, anti-microbials, and fluid therapy that will help alleviate your dog’s symptoms. In addition, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics. These help protect your dog from secondary infections such as pneumonia.

Are there any preventative measures I can take?

As a matter of fact, yes. There are three vaccinations that can reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease the amount of time your dog is showing symptoms. That being said, no vaccination will prevent your dog from getting sick.

The Vaccinations To Choose From

First, the Kennel Cough vaccination is extremely common. It can be administered to your dog every 6 months or year, depending on your vet’s recommendations. Second is the Influenza Virus vaccination. It is a little trickier since there are two strains. The Influenza H3N8 vaccination has been around since 2009. It is proven to reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms. However, it was unknown whether the vaccine also worked against the H3N2 strain of the virus. Thus, a new vaccination was created.

The H3N2 Strain

The H3N2 strain of the virus was first discovered in the United States in 2015. Prior to that, it was found in several countries in Asia. It even caused an outbreak in Thailand! The virus is known to be transferrable to cats. Due to its recent discovery, we do not have confirmation as to how harmful the virus is. What we do know is that it is extremely contagious. Once it spreads to a certain state, it is likely to infect a large percentage of dogs residing there.

What Does This Mean?

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 80% of dogs will be inflected with the virus. Though mortality rates are still quite low at 10%. Luckily, a new vaccination arrived on the market in November 2015. It is proven to reduce the severity of symptoms, the length of the illness, and how contagious they are. Now approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the H3N2 canine vaccination is available across the country. This means it is of the utmost importance that you vaccinate your dogs immediately before the virus arrives in your state.

When it comes to preventing Kennel Coughing and the more harmful Influenza Viruses, there is no better way than getting your dog vaccinated.  If you have any concerns about bringing your dog to daycare, please contact us.