Canine Influenza or ‘Dog Flu’ – What Is It And Should I Be Concerned For My Dog?

What Causes Canine Influenza or ‘Dog Flu’?

Just like in people, Canine Influenza is caused by different strains of Influenza A virus that is highly contagious between dogs. The H3N8 strain of the virus was first diagnosed in the southern United States in 2004 (thought to be a horse or equine flu virus that adapted to dogs) and H3N2 was first diagnosed in an outbreak near Chicago in 2015 (thought to be an Avian flu virus brought to the US from dogs imported from south Korea). Both viruses tend to occur in ‘Out Break’ situations where there are a lot of dogs together in relatively stressful situations such as shelters, boarding kennels and dog shows.

The first CONFIRMED cases of Canine Influenza in Canada occurred in late December in two dogs in southwestern Ontario in late December 2017.

What Happens to Dog Infected with Influenza Virus?

Dogs infected with the virus may show either a mild form of the disease or a more severe form.
Mild form
Dogs suffering with the mild form of influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may also be lethargic and have reduced appetite and a fever. Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose may also be observed. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the traditional kennel cough caused by
Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Dogs may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
Severe form
Dogs with the severe form of influenza develop high fevers (104⁰F – 106⁰F, 40⁰C – 41⁰C; normal is 101⁰F – 102⁰F, 38⁰ – 39⁰C) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.
Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with influenza have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is less than 10 percent. Most dogs recover in two to three weeks.
(From VeterinaryPartner.com )

Is there a Vaccine For Canine Influenza Available?

Yes, at Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic, we carry a Bivalent Canine Influenza Vaccine (Bivalent means it is effective against both H3N8 and H3N2). It requires an initial vaccination followed by a booster two to four weeks later. It is given annually after that. Like any flu vaccine, it is not 100% effective but can reduce the risk and most importantly severity of infection.

Should MY Dog be Vaccinated against Canine Influenza?

Canine Influenza Virus vaccination is not currently considered to be part of the ‘core’ canine vaccines (meaning the vaccines routinely recommended for ALL dogs such as Rabies and Parvovirus). Rather, it is given based on an individual dog’s lifestyle and potential risk of exposure. If your dog travels with you to areas or activities where they might have a higher risk of exposure such as travel to the southern US (especially if they will be boarded or visiting a groomer while there), will be boarded at a kennel in South Western Ontario or travels to dog shows, then vaccination is probably a good idea. For example, Hudson (Dr.s’ Palmer Portuguese Dog) was vaccinated last fall since he travels to Agility Trials in Michigan with RVT Tara and is potentially exposed to dogs from many different areas of the US.

Please fell free to give us a call at 705-759-8888 if you have any questions or concerns or would like to schedule a an appointment to have your dog vaccinated for Canine Influenza.

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