Officials warn Hoosier dog owners to watch for signs of canine influenza

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– State animal health officials say dog owners in Indiana should be watchful about canine influenza, but not alarmed.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) says other states have experienced a significant amount of canine influenza cases, but Indiana has only seen a handful.

Canine influenza spreads easily among dogs. They can become infected by inhaling airborne respiratory secretions and making contact with nasal discharge of infected dogs.

Pet owners should take steps to protect their dogs if they are at risk of exposure and consult with a veterinarian if signs of the disease are noticed.

Clinically, canine influenza presents similarly to kennel cough, or Bordetella. Coughing is usually the first sign and can last up to three weeks. Sickened animals may develop a fever as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit. More severe cases may progress to pneumonia that can be fatal. In this case, supportive care in a veterinary hospital is essential for survival.

In its milder form, this flu causes a low-grade fever along with coughing and a runny nose. Other signs include: fatigue, eye discharge and decreased appetite. Infected dogs that appear healthy can shed the virus before showing outward, visible signs.

“Normal, healthy dogs, if exposed, will likely become ill but recover. Very old, very young and immuno-suppressed canines are at highest risk, should they be exposed,” said Sandra Norman, DVM, a veterinarian for BOAH. “Owners who travel with their pets or take them to places where dogs congregate, like dog parks or kennels, should consider vaccinating their animals.”

A vaccine is available, but is not effective if the animal is already infected. Owners should consult with a veterinarian to discuss their pets’ risk to decide if the vaccine is a good option.

This virus is not known to have any human health effects.