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Canine Influenza vs. Kennel Cough

A new strain of the canine influenza virus (CIV), N3N2, has emerged in the Midwest. While currently subject to geographic limitations, this new form is highly contagious and capable of transmitting quickly between dogs in close proximity, raising concerns that it will spread to other areas of the country. Although similar to kennel cough on the surface, it is important to be able to distinguish between the two.

CIV infection is a mild upper respiratory tract infection characterized by signs of lethargy, anorexia, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, and wet cough. Twenty percent of dogs have the potential to develop a severe disease course. Dogs with more severe disease usually present with high fever, an increased respiratory rate, and pneumonia.

Kennel cough (Bordetella) is also spread through contact with other dogs, but contains key differences. Symptoms include a dry, hacking cough, no lethargy (normal behavior), no fever, no nasal discharge and a normal appetite.

For the time being, efforts should be made to avoid contact with other dogs; however, there is no need to significantly change your pet’s lifestyle. Both CIV and kennel cough are normally not life-threatening diseases and their symptoms can be managed well with treatment. If infected, your pet should be isolated from other dogs, given plenty of fluids and allowed to rest.

If symptoms persist or worsen, please schedule an appointment. Your veterinarian can diagnose the disease and design an effective treatment course to manage symptoms.