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What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza (canine flu) is a relatively new disease in dogs. It is an H3N8 influenza virus that mutated from influenza in horses and started showing up in greyhound kennels in
How is it spread?
It is spread by the dog coughing and creating an aerosol of the virus that can reach several feet away from the original source. The virus can also be transmitted on the clothing of people and can live for several hours. Therefore it can be carried by owners, kennel workers, etc. from one dog to another.
What are the clinical signs?
Clinical signs in most dogs are similar to kennel cough except the cough lasts for up to a month instead of a typical 7 days for kennel cough. About 20% of the dogs that develop clinical signs will develop pneumonia and the disease can be fatal in a percentage of these dogs.
Which dogs are most susceptible?
Although any dog could become infected, the dogs that are at risk are dogs that are in close contact with other dogs. For example: shelters, boarding facilities, grooming facilities, dog parks, dog shows, etc.
How is it diagnosed?
There are blood tests and tests on nasal discharge that can give a definitive diagnosis. However, in dogs that have already developed clinical signs, the test on nasal discharge for viral DNA is usually negative due to absence of the viral particles at that stage of the disease. Blood test have to be paired and taken 2 weeks apart so the diagnosis is usually confirmed in these dogs after treatment has been started.
The treatment is supportive. If a dog develops clinical signs, they may be put on antibiotics for up to a month. Dogs with pneumonia may have to be hospitalized and treated.
Can it be prevented?
There is a vaccine available now for the prevention of the disease. It requires 2 injections 3-4 weeks apart the first year and then annual vaccinations after that. Immunity usually takes 1-2 weeks after the second injection therefore; it does not do any good to vaccinate the day of boarding for example. Instead, vaccinations have to be done at least 4-6 weeks ahead of time.
At this time we have not seen any active cases however, we are recommending that owners that have dogs that are in the "at risk" group consider vaccinating. It is one of those things that may never happen in your pet, however if it does, it is too late to do anything about prevention at that time.