Information about Canine Influenza and the vaccine

A great deal of information has circulated recently regarding Canine Infl uenza and its health risks. This is due to a recent outbreak in Fairfax County this summer, with positive cases identifi ed in Loudoun County. We would like to provide you with some background information so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not to vaccinate your dog.

Canine influenza is a relatively new virus that has emerged just in the past three or so years. Similar to the human “fl u,” it is con- tagious and most dogs that come in contact with the virus will become infected and are able to pass it on to others. However, only 80% will ever show signs of the respiratory illness and those signs will be mild. Only about 20% will develop more serious symp- toms such as pneumonia.

Canine Influenza is most likely to be seen in high-stress areas such as boarding kennels, shelters, grooming facilities, and dog parks. These are places where your pet is in close “com- munication” with other dogs and the chances for direct contact are in- creased. Th e virus is spread via direct contact (licking, nuzzling), the air (coughing, sneezing), and via contaminated surfaces (sharing bowls).

So how can you best protect your dog? At Lansdowne Animal Hospital, we strive to provide you with a personalized approach. Th ere is a vaccine available but we feel that not everyone’s pet needs it. If your pet regularly visits the groomer or a local dog park, he or she is probably a candidate. Boarding facilities already require the Bordetella vaccine and many are now requiring the canine influenza vaccine as well so please be sure to check with them at least a month prior to your scheduled visit. The first time your dog receives its influenza injection it will need a booster in two weeks. The Bordetella vaccine should be given prior to your boarding visit as it is not usually effective if given upon arrival at the facility.

Hopefully this information has been helpful, but please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions!

Brenda Godlewski, DVM, Lansdowne Animal Hospital

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