While pets have not been proven to contract COVID-19, the dog flu is known to be a very contagious respiratory disease that has resulted in deaths in the canine population. While canine flu outbreaks have been occurring sporadically since 2015, cases have been rising in recent months, especially in shelter facilities and daycare settings. According to the CDC, this severe illness originated from the type A influenza which has split into two different strains: the H3N8 and H3N2 virus. The H3N8 equine influenza was transmitted from horses to dogs, and the H3N2 virus strain was transmitted from birds to dogs.
How is canine influenza transmitted?
Canine influenza spreads primarily through water droplets produced during coughing, sneezing, or heavy breathing. In close quarters like dogs housed in kennels or shelters, the more likely the sickness is to spread. Objects and places such as clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected if they come in contact with an infected pet. Luckily, there has been no historical record of canine influenza transmitting to humans although it is always best to play it safe!
Canine Flu Symptoms
It is possible that your pet may have contracted this respiratory illness if they show common signs of appetite loss, nasal discharge, eye discharge, and/or dry cough. Sometimes, these symptoms can lead to secondary health issues such as bacterial infections, pneumonia, or other issues in the respiratory tract. Although the mortality rate of this illness in dogs is relatively low, it’s important to contact your vet if you notice any of these signs.
Prevention and Treatment
Vaccines to protect dogs against both H3N8 and H3N2 canine flu are available in the United States. Speak with your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for your pet to receive this shot. If your dog does end up testing positive for canine influenza, keep your dog well hydrated, relaxed, and rested as its body’s immune system begins to fight the virus. Speak with a veterinarian for possible antibiotics to help them fight the virus or relieve symptoms.
Should pet telemedicine services be legalized in all states? Here is why we think yes:
1. By allowing virtual veterinary visits, pet owners living in communities without access to quality in-person veterinary services, like rural areas or traditionally low-income neighborhoods, are placed at a disadvantage when it comes to managing their pet’s health. Furthermore, people physically incapable of a person visit would benefit from the convenience provided by online appointments. Governments should strive to promote equality by increasing accessibility to resources for its citizens. Changing legislation surrounding telemedicine services and online appointments are some of the easiest ways to do so.
2. Gaps created by workforce shortages of veterinarians, recently exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic, could be bridged through telemedicine services. Not only do virtual visits decrease the overhead costs of running a veterinary practice, but also often allows veterinary professionals to meet with a larger number of people as they are no longer constricted to geographic location or the challenges that come with scheduling in-person appointments.
3. Many conditions can be treated without in person visits. Pet owners are inclined to pay for costly vet visits regarding physical exams or non urgent situations which, oftentimes, do not require in person consultations. As long as the online veterinary teams have sufficient medical education, they should be able to provide helpful advice and treatment for the pets. There are many instances where owners become worried when their pets start vomiting or acting differently, but it isn’t always necessary to set up an in person appointment that may interfere with their busy schedules. Instead, pet owners can look to online veterinary care as a more convenient alternative where the medical professionals can virtually tell them whether or not it is an emergency and give them advice on possible treatments. As they have the same credentials as clinical veterinarians, they can prescribe medication that may easily solve the issue without having to go to the clinic.
4. Pet owners own their pets and should be able to make their own choice about using telemedicine. Pets offer lots of assistance and emotional support to their families, and they are seen as great companions to their human counterparts. Since pets do not have the ability to speak their needs, the owners take on that responsibility to keep their pets healthy and safe. Owners keep their pets’ health in their best interest, and it is up to them to decide whether or not they can receive telemedicine. It is important to note that many clients willingly receive accessible treatment for their pets and understand the potential risks and benefits of receiving telemedicine. In fact, Telepaws has their own set of terms and conditions that clients and veterinarians agree to: in certain states where telemedicine is allowed, owners sign informed consent forms where they are thoroughly made aware of the possible advantages and disadvantages of undergoing virtual treatment.