Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Health Center, says H3N8, also called canine influenza, is a strain specific to dogs. The influenza jumped from horses to dogs in 2004, then mutated into the H3N8 strain now found in canines.
“So we have a lot of dogs in our population that have never been exposed to it before, and most dogs who are exposed to it will get sick from it,” Nelson said.
Many boarding facilities and doggie day cares are now requiring dogs to be vaccinated for canine influenza. While the symptoms in dogs are similar to those in humans, Nelson says people are not likely to catch this from their dog.
“To date, the canine influenza H3N8 has not been shown to spread to people at all,” Nelson said.
About 80 percent of dogs that get canine influenza show signs; those symptoms are coughing, fever, yellowish-green colored nasal discharge, dehydration and lethargy. For some dogs, this can lead to a more serious illness like pneumonia. Nelson says if your dog shows signs of a respiratory disease to contact your veterinarian.
“If your dog does show signs of canine influenza or another respiratory disease, you want to immediately quarantine it from other dogs and keep it at home,” Nelson said. “Do not take your dog to doggie day care or other places where it may spread the disease to others.”
Dogs typically show signs of the disease two to five days after exposure. Nelson says most dogs just need some rest, fluids and a warm place to nurse them back to health.
The Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center does offer the canine influenza vaccine. For more information, contact the center at 785-532-5700.
The Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory also can test samples for canine influenza. For more information, contact the laboratory at 866-512-5650.