Sick as a dog: Canine Influenza
Lots of you may have heard the recent news about the dog flu in our community. I’d like to address some of the concerns about the canine flu and talk about what we, as pet owners and caretakers, can do to help ensure that our beloved dogs stay healthy in the face of this recent outbreak.
Let’s start with a little background on Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). There are two isolated strains of CIV: H3N2 and H3N8. H3N8 is believed to have originated from the equine Influenza Virus and has now adapted to cause disease in dogs. In September 2005, this strain was identified as a canine pathogen. H3N2 was first isolated in America in March 2015 and has been spreading across the states. This strain is thought to have developed from the avian influenza virus. Until recently, we did not have any confirmed cases of either strain in Kentucky. Unfortunately, we now have both.
CIV is different from other respiratory infections, but it can look very similar. It is also canine specific, and does not infect people. Dogs with CIV may show signs of coughing, discharge from the eyes or nose, lack of appetite and loss of energy. Some dogs may show very little signs. However, some dogs become severely ill and may die.
Fortunately, we do have a diagnostic test for CIV and we also have a vaccine.
The vaccine contains both strains that we know are causing disease in our pet population. If your dog is not yet vaccinated, it is still important to do so. The vaccine is given in 2 doses, 2-3 weeks apart. The vaccine for CIV is different than the human flu shot in that we know exactly which strains are infecting our dogs, and those strains are in our vaccine.
If your dog becomes ill, and you are concerned that it may be CIV, we want you to call us and allow us to examine your dog. There are many reasons for coughing, and not all coughing dogs have the flu. However, if we suspect that your dog does have CIV, prompt diagnosis and treatment mean a better chance of a quick recovery. The majority of dogs with CIV recover with treatment and go on to be happy healthy dogs.
Some people are concerned about adding another vaccine for their dogs. All of us at Breckenridge Animal Hospital are here to answer any questions you may have about CIV and your pets. Or any questions for that matter! Stay happy and healthy!
Allison Webb DVM
“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail”