Doggie Flu

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A dog with pet insurance recovers from canine influenza.
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
For Pets Best Insurance

In the past few months, a few of my pack of 10 dogs have been showing mild pet health symptoms of canine influenza. First, one will have a soft cough and mild sneezing similar to kennel cough, and then another.

They will get a slight fever for a few days and have a diminished appetite as well. Although this might be alarming to some, working as a vet and now in the pet insurance industry– I have seen canine influenza frequently.

A recent alert from the American Veterinary Medical Association reminded me that the disease is on the rise across the country. According to the alert, the virus that causes canine influenza has two forms; mild and severe. The mild form is as I have described above for my own dogs, however they report it lasts from 10-30 days, where only one of our dogs persisted for more than a week and need treatment.

The severe form requires pet health care from a veterinarian and although death is rare at 5-8%, it can result in pneumonia. It is thought to be a mutation of the equine influenza. There is no transmission to humans known at this time.

A dog can be susceptible to infection at any age and the disease is transmitted by other dogs from things like nasal discharge. Humans may transmit the virus from an infected dog to another dog, if the virus is on their hands, toys, bowls, etc. So be sure to wash your hands if you handle a dog outside your household before interacting with your dog.

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If your dog is showing symptoms do not board them or visit dog parks or other areas where they could transmit the virus. Also, before you board your dog, inquire whether any canine influenza has been present in the facility lately. The virus can be killed by disinfectants; therefore if the kennel has good hygienic protocols for cleaning the risk will be lowered. Dogs showing symptoms should be isolated immediately from other dogs to prevent spreading the virus.

If your dog demonstrates symptoms, call your veterinarian as they may want to provide antibiotics to diminish secondary infections or provide fluids if you’re pet becomes dehydrated. This condition is covered under the “illness” portion of many pet health insurance companies but it is not covered if you have accident only coverage. To learn more go to

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