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Canine Influenza

With the emergence of the highly contagious new Canine Influenza in western Washington we want to provide you with some information for your furry friends.

What is the dog flu (Canine Influenza)?

The dog flu is caused by Canine Influenza viruses. There are two main strains of Influenza in dogs, but the current one affecting a small number of dogs at a boarding kennel in western WA is a new and novel strain, H3N2. This novel strain is the same one that caused a large outbreak of respiratory illness in dogs in the Chicago area in the Spring of 2015.

Is my dog at risk?

Because the new strain is novel, it means that no dogs have immunity to it already, leaving all dogs susceptible. Virtually all exposed dogs will develop an infection, and approximately 80% of those will show symptoms. Dogs typically develop symptoms within a few days of being exposed, and dogs that have close social contact with other dogs, or shared indoor air for several hours are at greatest risk. Dogs that attend dog shows, agility trials, dog parks, boarding kennels, grooming salons, or dog daycare facilities should take special precautions, including possible vaccination.

What symptoms should I watch for in my dog?

The most common form of the disease is fairly mild, with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection including cough, lethargy, reduced appetite, mild fever, sneezing, and/or ocular and nasal discharge. Rarely, some dogs can succumb to a more severe form of the virus, leading to pneumonia. Symptoms of pneumonia include worsening cough, high fever, lethargy, inappetence, and rapid or deep breathing.

How can I protect my dog?

Dogs that attend dog shows, agility trials, dog parks, boarding kennels, grooming salons and dog daycare facilities are at the highest exposure risk of any respiratory illnesses. Those dogs are candidates for vaccination against the new strain of Influenza, as well as the already recommended Bordetella vaccine ("Kennel Cough"). If you have upcoming travel to western Washington with your dog, consider vaccinating your dog now, due to the recent emergence of this novel virus there. Alpine Animal Hospital now carries the new vaccine for this strain, and while it is under a conditional license from the FDA, it appears as safe as any other vaccine. The main side effects include possible vaccine reaction, but the vaccine can not cause Influenza in your dog.

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine is made from a killed version of the Influenza strain, and stimulates your dog's immune system to better ward off the virus should they be exposed. Influenza vaccines do not prevent your dog from getting the flu, but does greatly reduce the severity and duration of the illness. The vaccine is given as a series of two, three weeks apart. The second vaccine should be given at least 10-15 days prior to travel to western Washington or possible exposure. Given the vaccine timeline, owners should start the vaccines at least 5 weeks before travel or possible exposure.

Please schedule an exam to discuss your dog's individual risk, or set up a vaccine appointment today!
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Phone: (509) 332-6575
Fax: (509) 334-4561
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Alpine Animal Hospital
4853 SR 270
Pullman, WA 99163
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