The DL on the Dog Flu
So, what is the dog flu and do you need to worry about it? I was scrolling along on good ol Facebook last night and this morning and read about cases of dog flu confirmed in Florida. I thought, Hey! That’s a good blog topic!
The dog flu or canine influenza has been around our neck of the woods since 2004. This particular strain, H3N8, first occurred in racing greyhounds and spread quickly over the Southeast. The dog flu is not seasonal, and can occur year round. It is extremely contagious so many veterinarians began vaccinating as soon as the vaccine became available. It is required by many boarding kennels and grooming facilities, because these are the animals at highest risk. Any dog that comes in to contact with groups of other dogs are at risk. I tell my clients that if your dog is at risk for kennel cough, then it is at risk for canine influenza.
In 2015, a new strain of the canine flu emerged, H3N2 in Chicago and is steadily spreading. Last year, our clinic revamped our vaccine protocol, changing to a bivalent flu vaccine that includes both H3N8 and H3N2. This is a serious, extremely contagious, respiratory disease spread by coughing, barking, sneezing, or by contaminated objects, leashes, kennel surfaces, food and water bowls. If an unvaccinated dog is exposed, greater than 80% will be infected and become ill, most showing severe coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, and some develop pneumonia. It is not typically fatal, however dogs that develop severe pneumonia can die.
This is what you need to know: If your dog is vaccinated for kennel cough, then they need to be vaccinated for influenza. If your dog goes to the dog park, Petsmart, Lowes, Tractor supply, a boarding kennel or grooming facility, OR comes into close contact with dogs that do, then they need to be vaccinated. You need to make sure that the vaccine your veterinarian is using has both strains of influenza or at least the one that is circulating right now, H3N2. I recommend the bivalent vaccine that contains both strains. Dogs need 1 vaccine and then a booster 3 weeks later to be protected. After that, we vaccinate annually with other important vaccines.
Wag more, Bark Less,