It’s Flu Season Again

But For Our Dogs, It Is Always Flu Season Ever have a fever, runny nose, persistent cough, lose your appetite and feel achy; in other words the kind of sickness that you wouldn’t wish on a dog? Actually, your dog can feel that bad, but now, just as for humans, help can be just a vaccination away.

Canine Influenza outbreak was first recognized in thousands of Greyhounds at 20 different race tracks in eight different states from 2003 to 2005. In 2006 researchers at the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center found anti-influenza antibodies in dogs who have no connection with racetracks – the virus had spread into the pet population. Since 2009 it has been documented in 30 states.

Canine Flu is caused by the H3N8 Canine Influenza virus, a possible mutation of the equine virus. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection easily spread from one dog to another by coughing, sneezing and direct contact but, as with any flu virus, it is not picked up by eating meat from an infected animal. It is often misdiagnosed as kennel cough so only an experienced veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Although some dogs remain symptomless while infected, most will have a persistent cough for 10 to 30 days. If a greenish nasal discharge is also present, a secondary bacterial infection is indicated requiring antibiotic treatment. Also, there is the possibility of progression to pneumonia with the obvious signs of shortness of breath, fever and lethargy requiring hospitalization. A very small percentage (less than 1 percent) contracts this critical form. Death, while rare, has been known to occur. The very young, old and immune-suppressed are particularly vulnerable.

Since July 2009 a canine flu vaccine, shown to be safe, has been available. While it cannot prevent the flu, it does significantly reduce the symptoms, lessen the severity and limit the spread of the disease. The American Animal Hospital Association classifies the vaccine as a non core vaccine – this means it should be given to those dogs likely to be exposed to the virus. Because most facilities with a high concentration and high turnover of dogs are considered high risk, dogs are highly contagious before they display symptoms, many boarding, day care, grooming and some hospital facilities now require both bordetella and flu vaccinations. Learn more about it from your vet.

Negola’s Ark Veterinary Hospital

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