Protect your Pup from the Flu.
Deadly strains of Canine Influenza are being reported across the country, prompting boarding facilities, dog parks, and day cares to require proof of vaccination. Due to the high probability of contagion (it spreads at a rate of 80 – 100% contraction from exposure to the carrier), veterinarians are recommending the Canine Influenza Vaccine be among the standard vaccines your pup receives at their annual visit, depending on the possibility of exposure.
Several strains of Canine Influenza have been introduced to the United States from dogs imported from Southeast Asia. Now that the disease has entered the country, it has been very difficult to arrest the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, dogs begin shedding the virus at least four days before they even become symptomatic. Because the symptoms are similar to other upper respiratory diseases, owners often delay seeking diagnosis and treatment from their veterinarian; also delaying necessary quarantining procedures as well. As a result, many high-risk dogs, such as puppies, non-vaccinated dogs, dogs with poor preventative care (rescue/shelter dogs) and senior dogs, may be unwittingly exposed to the dangerous and sometimes deadly virus. It is even possible for dogs to be carriers of the virus and be completely asymptomatic, compounding the risk.
For this reason, our veterinarians are now recommending that our patients who are around other dogs receive a bivalent injection of the two common Canine Influenza Virus, H3N2 and H3N8. It is a “killed” virus, meaning it cannot cause your dog to contract the disease. Like the human flu virus, the disease can mutate over time and develop new strains; thus, the need for a dual vaccine, as well as continued research to ensure that we continue to protect our pups from any strains that may develop over time. For example, if your pet has already been vaccinated for H3N8, it will need to begin a series to protect against H3N2.
The CIV or Flu Vaccine Series begins with an initial vaccination, followed by a booster within 2 – 3 weeks. Boosters are then given on an annual basis. However, please keep in mind that your pet may not be fully protected from CIV until 14 days AFTER the initial booster… so PLAN AHEAD. If you plan to board your dog, you will need to begin flu vaccination a month before boarding. Also, avoid socializing your dog until they are fully vaccinated.
Because many of these Symptoms mirror other Upper Respiratory Infections, it is vital that your Veterinarian test for CIV:
- Persistent Cough
- Nasal or Eye Discharge
- Reduced Appetite
- Secondary Bacterial Infections can occur, causing more severe illness and pneumonia
As with any virus, supportive care to keep your dog as comfortable as possible. Medications may be prescribed if there is a secondary bacterial infection. It typically takes 2 -3 weeks for your dog to recover. During that time, they need to be isolated from other dogs and everything they come in contact with will need to be thoroughly sanitized before introducing any other dog back into the environment.
WARNING: HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS
The virus can be spread through airborne particles (coughing, sneezing) and transferred through saliva and feces. It can be spread from human to dog. For this reason, dogs that come in contact with CIV should be quarantined, and humans should take strict precaution with hand washing and cross contamination procedures involving feed bowls, bedding, toys and clothing. Even shoes should be decontaminated before entering an area with other dogs.
All of the above can be avoided by simply vaccinating your dog against the Canine Influenza as soon as possible, and keeping them up to date on vaccines every year.