Canine flu, also called canine influenza, is an infection that spreads from dog to dog. If Toto has the flu, it's best to go see a veterinarian for a diagnosis and proper treatment, which usually consists of rest, hydration and sometimes medication (both to treat symptoms and to prevent a secondary bacterial infection). A healthy dog should recover in about a week; on the other hand, if he has a pre-existing disease, heart or kidney, for example, he will need a lot of care and support during this troubled period.
Method 1 of 2: Taking Supportive Treatment
Step 1. Understand that there is no medical cure for canine influenza
Instead, the veterinarian will offer something called "supportive care," which is basically a combination of symptom management and rest so that the dog's immune system improves and becomes capable of fighting the virus; only he can do it.
- Clean the dog's nose and eyes. Boil some water and let it cool to room temperature; then moisten a handkerchief with this water and clean the mentioned areas.
- The bed he's on should have plenty of padding. The dog can create bed sores if it sits too long, so put some extra blankets for him to lie on.
- Keep the dog indoors, it shouldn't be too hot or cold.
Step 2. Give the dog fluids
The vet may offer extra fluids (sometimes even straight into the vein) if the dog has become dehydrated while fighting canine influenza. In milder cases, just encourage him to drink more water.
Dogs need to drink about 50 ml of water for every kg; that is, a dog weighing 22 kg should drink approximately 1 L of water a day. If he's not motivated to drink, you can inject water into the side of his mouth with a syringe; do it in small, frequent doses
Step 3. Encourage the dog to eat
A sick dog may not have much of an appetite, but food is important for him to have strength. Warm up some wet or canned food and offer it to him; offering food in hand may make it easier, but he may only be interested in the tasty snacks. As a last resort, ask your veterinarian about Oralade, a liquid food that can be given with a syringe.
Step 4. Ask for symptom management remedies
Giving human remedies (such as Tylenol, Advil, and other cold and flu remedies) to dogs is a bad idea, but your veterinarian can suggest some safe alternatives to lessen irritating flu symptoms while the dog's immune system fights the virus. Talk to your veterinarian if you want medicine for the pain, fever, runny nose, and other symptoms of nasal congestion that are present during dog flu.
Method 2 of 2: Avoiding Complications
Step 1. Choose the right antibiotics
Although canine influenza is a viral infection, veterinarians offer antibiotics to prevent so-called “secondary bacterial infections”: while the immune system is busy with the virus, it can weaken and become susceptible to bacterial infections. Antibiotics help prevent this, as well as making the dog recover faster.
Step 2. Prevent the infection from spreading to other dogs
Even if your dog is getting better, it's important to keep him at home and away from other dogs. The virus spreads through droplets of saliva and your dog can infect others with a sneeze. Avoid going with him to public places that have other dogs, such as kennels, day care centers and public dog parks. While keeping a dog quiet at home can be difficult, you would certainly appreciate it if someone else did so as not to infect Rex, right?
- Wash your hands after touching your dog or possibly infected items such as his bowl, toys and bed; be careful also before touching another dog.
- You can hire a dog walker while the flu lasts if your routine doesn't allow you to take care of the dog yourself.
- He can stop by your house to check on the dog and walk him in safe places (where there are no other dogs that could be infected).
Step 3. Monitor the dog's improvement
It should begin to improve in a few days to a week, and symptoms should begin to subside until they disappear completely. If he only gets worse or shows no signs of improvement after a week, take him back to the vet for a second checkup, as he may need additional care, or even be hospitalized in more severe cases. This rarely happens, but go to the vet: better safe than sorry.
- Look for signs of dehydration, especially if the dog hasn't been drinking as much water.
- Notice if the dog pees or poops itself, especially if it doesn't get out of bed.
- Take the dog's temperature twice a day. The normal is to be between 37.7º and 39, 4º.
- If the dog has a pre-existing disease (heart or kidney, for example) you will need to take extra measures to support him in fighting the infection. Work closely with the veterinarian so that the dog gets the care it needs, which may include staying at the vet clinic.