I recently talked about kennel cough in dogs. Just like humans get colds, coughs and respiratory diseases, your dog can also develop these symptoms thanks to viruses. Fortunately, the viruses that caused colds in humans are not the same ones that cause respiratory issues in canines. This answers the question ‘can dogs get the cold’ and ‘can my dog catch my cold?’ The answer is that yes, dogs can catch the cold but they will not catch a cold from you. Dogs can get flu and even stomach flu symptoms. So let us study dog flu symptoms in detail and ways to treat and prevent it.
Dog flu symptoms
Dog flu is caused by canine influenza virus which is characterized by the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Nasal discharge
- Wet cough
- Red runny eyes
- Blood in mucus discharge from the mouth
Dog flu is relatively rare. In some states I America though, there have been cases of outbreaks that led to an epidemic affecting thousands of dogs. Your vet can give you information about dog flu and whether you need to vaccinate your pet. If there is an outbreak, you must definitely vaccinate your dog with the canine influenza vaccine.
Prevention of dog flu
The best way to prevent dog flu symptoms is to vaccinate your pet against the disease and also avoid high risk areas like dog boarding facilities and kennels. Unfortunately, the strains that cause canine flu keep changing, so no vaccine will protect your pet one hundred percent. In general, dog flu is like human flu and may produce few or no dog flu symptoms. Your pet might simply feel warmer than usual and may want to sleep in. S/he may refuse food and produce little to no urine.
How long does the flu last in dogs?
Depending on the extent of the infection, dog flu can last for a week or even up to a month. Very sick dogs must be promptly taken to the vet. This is especially in case of high fever (over 102.5 F) as it is clearly an indication that your pet has an infection and may need prescription medicine. Any dog flu symptoms that last over 7 days mustn’t be ignored. Your dog might get dehydrated and may need IV fluids. Try to coax some vegetable or chicken broth into him to help him fight the infection.
How to take your pet’s temperature
A fever is one of the best ways to tell if your dog has the canine flu. You can take its temperature rectally or feel her ears and observe her nose. Your pet’s nose should be moist and pink. Very dry nose is an indication that your pet is sick. Her ears will also feel warmer than usual. Normal body temperature of dogs is between 99.5-102.5F. Also check your pet’s gums. Gums should be pink – any other color indicates that your pet is not normal.
Here are the steps for using rectal thermometer:
- Ask someone to gently hold your dog. If you have a large dog, ask them to hold its mouth and shoulders. In some cases, you may have to muzzle your pet.
- You can use digital thermometer used for humans-the kind you insert in the mouth. Lubricate it with some petroleum jelly or vegetable oil.
- Insert the thermometer inside your pet’s rectum gently. The bulb should go in at least 1-2 inches.
- Leave the thermometer inside for a minute or two.
- Remove it, wipe it with a tissue and check the reading.
What to do next
You need not immediately rush your pet to the vet if it has a temperature. Observe your pet for a few days. Trust your instincts. You know your pet best and will be able tell if it is serious. Mild cases of dog flu symptoms will go away within a day or two. Daily habits and consistency in daily routine will give you sure signs whether your pet needs medical care.
- Observe if your pet is urinating and passing stools daily.
- S/he should show signs of hunger like sniffing at her food bowl.
- If she shows no signs of wanting to go out or to play or eat, and if this lasts for more than 3 days, then do call your vet immediately.
Dogs are truly creatures of habit. So if anything changes in their daily routine, you must see a vet quickly.
Basic home remedies for dog flu
- Peanut butter is a great treat to hide pills that your dog might spit out.
- Cranberry juice is great for dogs showing urinary issues like trouble urinating, painful urination etc.
- If your pet has the chills, place her/him in a climate controlled environment or use an old T-shirt to cover it up.
- Yogurt is great for dogs having stomach flu symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting etc. It will help restore friendly bacteria in the gut.
- Garlic- This is a natural antibiotic and can treat and prevent infection. Add a bit to your dog’s chicken or beef broth.
- Olive oil-1 tbsp olive oil for large dog and 1 tsp for small dog can help alleviate pain.
Medicines for dog flu
- For runny nose, sneezing, hay fever etc, administer some Benadryl. It is an antihistamine that can also relieve itchiness, watery eyes etc.
- Kaopectate is safe for dogs having upset stomach. Give one teaspoon per 10 pounds of bodyweight.
- Pedialyte® is a good drink to give your dog having dehydration symptoms. It rehydrates and you can give it several times a day for dogs that are refusing food or water.
- Pepto Bismol is safe for administering to dogs with stomach problems. Give one teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight every 4 hours.
- Ginger pills- These are safe to give your pet for controlling nausea.
Homeopathic remedies for dog flu
- Phosphorus 30 C- Dog flu can be treated with this natural homeopathic remedy. It will relieve pain, lethargy and vomiting.
- Devil’s claw and yucca along with willow bark are strong pain medicines safe for dogs. Willow bark is nothing but aspirin though many vets do not allow pet parents to administer aspirin to dogs.
- Nux vomica-4-5 pellets of this remedy placed on dog tongue will relieve vomiting.
As mentioned earlier, do talk to your vet about dog flu vaccines so you can keep your pet healthy this flu season.