What is it?
Canine influenza –aka Dog Flu or CIV—is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs. The first confirmed Dog Flu (H3N8) outbreak occurred in Florida at a greyhound racing track in 2004. In 2015, a second strain (H3N2) was discovered in Chicago during an outbreak. This second strain was thought to have originated from Asia. As of 2018, either one or both strains of the virus have been seen in almost every state in the US.
How is it spread?
Canine influenza is mostly spread through direct contact from infected dogs, or respiratory secretions from coughing, barking, and sneezing. However, it can also be spread through objects that were touched by infected dogs, like toys or water bowls. Therefore, boarding and grooming facilities, dog parks, and other pet-friendly locations can all pose an increased risk to your dog.
The virus can survive for 12 hours on hands, 24 hours on clothing, and up to 48 hours on surfaces. Approximately 80% of dogs exposed to the canine influenza will develop clinical signs 2-4 days after exposure. Even when not exhibiting signs of illness, infected dogs can still spread the virus intermittently for 24 days.
What are the symptoms?
Dog Flu can be difficult to diagnose since many other pathogens can cause similar clinical signs. The clincal signs of CIV exposure are respiratory in nature, but can vary from dog to dog. The most common signs include a persistent dry or productive cough, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, a mild/low-grade fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
Mortality is believed to be low (less than 10%); however, in severe cases infected dogs can develop a high fever and/or pneumonia that can lead to death. To accurately diagnose canine influenza, certain tests must be run to rule out clinical signs also present with other respiratory illnesses. When treated, most dogs recover within 2 to 3 weeks. The virus is not known to have any human health affects and should NOT be confused with strains known to infect people.
How do we prevent it?
Viral disease is best prevented by effective vaccination. There are vaccines available to control the spread of canine influenza virus and mimimize its impact. Just like human flu shots, canine influenza vaccines may not completely prevent canine influenza, but may make it less likely occur. And if a vaccinated dog gets the flu, the signs are likely to be milder.
WVC has the Canine influenza vaccine on hand and we are able to vaccinate. This vaccine will need to be boosted 2-4 weeks after the intial vaccination. As the virus becomes more prevalent in our area, our pets’ risk of both direct and indirect exposure increases. Therefore, consider vaccinating your dog. To find out more about Canine Influenza, click the links listed below:
The Dog Flu (Merck Animal Health)
Canine Influenza (American Veterinary Medical Association)
Canine Flu (Center for Disease Control)