You may have heard about the recent outbreak in the Seattle area of a new type of “dog flu” affecting pets across the country. This highly contagious and potentially very serious respiratory infection is caused by canine influenza virus H3N2.
Chances are, if your dog is exposed to H3N2, he or she may become infected.
Dogs that are in contact with other dogs may be at high risk of infection with H3N2. This includes dogs that are boarded, enrolled in day care or training classes, go to groomers, or visit our local dog parks.
Dogs can spread the virus even if they don’t appear sick.
The virus can be spread dog-to-dog or through objects, including dog toys, bowls, and human hands, clothing, and shoes.
Severity of symptoms vary from a mild cough and runny nose, to a high fever, decreased appetite, severe pneumonia, and extreme lethargy. Symptoms can persist for weeks.
If you have a puppy, elderly, or pregnant dog, or a dog that has a chronic illness, you should take extra precautions.
The best prevention is vaccination.
The good news: our office now has vaccines available to help control illness associated with H3N2.
We also have a second vaccine for another type of canine influenza, H3N8, which is likewise capable of causing severe respiratory disease in dogs (but to date has not been reported in Seattle).
Vaccination against both types of canine flu helps to ensure maximum protection. This is particularly important if you plan to board your dog in the near future or send him or her to a grooming or daycare facility.
We are now requiring all dogs that stay with us for boarding, grooming, or bathing to be vaccinated for both canine flu viruses H3N2 and H3N8.
We are offering a new Canine Upper Respiratory Package that includes both initial flu vaccines, plus the 3-week boosters.
If your dog is a current patient and up-to-date on his or her other vaccinations, the flu vaccines can be given during a brief complimentary nurse appointment.
For the time being, we are discontinuing day admission (drop-off) exams for sick dogs.
These are still available for cats and well dogs.
If your dog develops a cough, nasal discharge, or fever, please call us right away.
We are developing infectious disease protocols to help protect all our patients, and will advise you regarding how to bring your dog to our office to minimize the risk of infecting other patients.
If your dog becomes ill after hours, please call Seattle Veterinary Specialty Center on Capitol Hill at 206-624-9111.
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