Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza

The Flu and the Swine Flu have been the hot topic during the last few months. Dogs are not exempt from catching the flu. Canine Influenza is an A H3N8 influenza virus that has been known to exist in horses for more than 40 years. In 2004, however, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs (initially greyhounds) were reported. This virus has spread to dogs and can now spread between dogs.

Because this flu virus is new to dogs, most dogs will not have a natural immunity. The signs of canine flu are similar to kennel cough, with a thick nasal discharge and mild low grade fever.

Canine influenza is spread by airborne discharge and contaminated surfaces. The virus can stay alive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Therefore kennels, crates, food and water bowls, collars and leashes and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs have ample time to spread the virus.

There are similar respiratory infections that mimic the Dog Flu. Two blood samples can confirm canine influenza. One blood sample is drawn while the dog is sick and the second 2 to 3 weeks later.

There is a Canine Influenza Vaccine, H3N8 which has proven to reduce the occurrence and severity of lung lesions, as well as the duration of coughing and the overall virus. The vaccine is made from inactivated virus and is administered by an injection in two doses, two to four weeks apart. The Canine Flu vaccine may be given to dogs six weeks of age or older and can be given annually for Flu protection. Dog owners should seek advice from with their veterinarian to determine whether the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.

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Currently, there is no evidence that humans can catch canine influenza virus from dogs. There are no known cases of humans infected with the canine influenza virus. This virus infects dogs and spreads between dogs.

Just like the Swine Flu and the Seasonal Flu, it is likely that the Dog Flu will continue to spread. Taking precautions and taking proper care of your pet, should keep your dog healthy during this flu season. There is no need for alarm and avoiding dog parks, kennels, grooming or other places you typically take your dog. Reputable Pet Professionals keep their establishments sanitized and are aware of unhealthy symptoms of their clients.

For more information on Canine Influenza, check out American Veterinary Medical Association at .