PurinaCare® Pet Health Insurance, which is committed to help pet owners provide a lifetime of care for their dogs and cats, is alerting dog owners to the dangers of the H3N8 virus, more commonly referred to as the Dog Flu or canine influenza.

Canine influenza is extremely contagious and while humans are not affected by this flu strain, they can unknowingly pass it from an infected dog to an unaffected dog. Dog Flu can also be spread directly from dog to dog and via contaminated objects. Dogs in kennels, boarding facilities, or animal shelters, at dog shows, or in close proximity to other dogs are at a higher risk of contracting canine influenza.

"If your dog is exposed to another dog that has the canine influenza virus, it is highly likely your dog will come down with the dog flu," says Dr. William H. Craig, DVM, Chief Medical and Underwriting Director of PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance. "Pet owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus."

The dog flu first emerged as a threat in 2004. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says canine influenza has now been detected in more than 30 states.

Dog Flu Symptoms:

- Symptoms are similar to "kennel cough" (which is caused by the Bordetella organism, not the H3N8 virus)
- Fever
- An unproductive dry cough
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy

Developing secondary bacterial pneumonia is the most serious consequence of Dog Flu and can cause death in extreme cases.

"Dogs with canine influenza symptoms should receive prompt veterinary attention to determine the best treatment," says Craig. "If the symptoms are left untreated they can cause death."

Dog Flu Treatments:

- Intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement
- Diuretic drugs that remove fluid from the lungs
- Broad spectrum antibiotics
- Cough suppressant to reduce tracheal inflammation that may lead to bacterial infection

Dog Flu Vaccination:

There is a canine influenza vaccine available. It would not be included in most dogs' annual core vaccine regimen; but, for high-risk animals it may be warranted. Dogs should receive one vaccine, followed by a second dose 2 to 4 weeks later. Ideally, they should receive the vaccine series at least one week before entering a high-risk environment, such as the shelter or boarding facility. Your veterinarian can help determine whether the canine influenza vaccine is appropriate for your pet.

As with most medical treatments and care, prevention and treatment costs can sometimes be prohibitive. Pet health insurance like PurinaCare® is committed to helping pet owners alleviate some of the uncertainty by knowing the treatment will be covered by one of the most trusted names in pet care.

PurinaCare Pet Health Insurance

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