We’re not aware of any current outbreaks of canine influenza virus (CIV or “dog flu”) in Seattle yet this year. But, with the holidays almost upon us and many more people traveling with pets, be aware of the hotspots throughout the U.S.
California, Texas, Florida, the upper Midwest and Northeast have all had recent outbreaks of “dog flu.”
We encourage dog families to think about their dog’s risks factors, and consider vaccinating or boostering dogs at higher risk.
Dogs at High Risk
Social dogs that are in contact with other dogs at dog parks, in day care, training classes, boarding or at the groomers may be at high risk of infection.
About the Canine Flu Virus
The two current canine flu viruses, H3N2 and H3N8, are highly contagious and potentially very serious respiratory infections. Chances are, if your dog is exposed one of these viruses, he or she will become infected.
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, an elderly or pregnant dog, or a dog that has a chronic illness, you should take extra precautions.
How the ‘Dog Flu’ Virus is Spread
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.
The Best Prevention is Vaccination
Our office has vaccines available to help prevent illness associated with both dog flu viruses. Vaccination against both types of canine flu helps to ensure maximum protection.
This is particularly important if you plan to travel with your dog to a higher risk area, board your dog, or send him or her to a grooming or daycare facility.
If your dog is a current patient and up-to-date on his or her other examinations and vaccinations, the flu vaccines can be given during a brief complimentary nurse appointment.
Dogs require 2 initial vaccines, 3-4 weeks apart, and then an annual booster.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has the Flu
If your dog develops a cough, nasal discharge, or fever, please call us right away. We have developed 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.