If you think only people can catch the flu – think again. A flu strain known as H3N8 affects dogs all over America.
Get the facts here, then make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza.
Some quick facts about Canine Flu:
- Only affects dogs
- First reported in March 2003, in Florida
- Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
- Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
- Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
- Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces
My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already. That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No. Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8. Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!
My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.) Isn’t that the same thing?
No. Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different. Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus. Vaccinating against one does not provide protection against the other.
How can I tell whether my dog needs the Canine Flu vaccination?
The same situations that call for the Bordetella vaccine, also call for the Flu shot. Check this list* to see which situations apply to your pet:
- Pet comes from a shelter, rescue group, breeding kennel, pet store
- Pet boards at a kennel or goes to doggie daycare
- Pet attends group training classes
- Pet goes to a groomer, dog parks, or meets other dogs during its daily walks
- Pet is entered into dog shows
- Pet comes into contact with other dogs in veterinary clinic or pet store
How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.
So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease. And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.
Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics. Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.
Remember: when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along. In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system. And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.
Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.
*Borrowed from “Canine Influenza: What do I need to know?” by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health. Pamphlet is available at our office.