DOG OWNERS – IMPORTANT CANINE INFLUENZA INFORMATION
While it may not yet be flu season for people, the same cannot be said for our pets. Small outbreaks of canine influenza have been identified all throughout the country all year round. The dog flu, which is different than the human variant and cannot be contracted by people, has similar symptoms as the human flu - coughing, sneezing, achiness and fever. Many of our pets have their flu vaccines, though, so they should be protected, right?
Well, it's not as simple as it may seem. Our current influenza vaccine is created to protect against a specific flu strain that was identified several years ago. While this flu variant still exists, a newer strain has also been recognized more recently as another source of illness for our dogs. Unfortunately, the previous vaccine does not protect against the new influenza strain. As the health of your pet is utmost importance to us at Timonium Animal Hospital, we are now offering vaccines against both the older and new influenza viruses. We have a combined vaccine for both virus strains and a booster vaccine for the new strain.
CIV is just one of the pathogens that causes Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD). It is not possible to distinguish CIV from other pathogens that cause CIRD based on symptoms alone. There are serologic test but these are many times inaccurate and misleading. The main distinction of CIV from other pathogens that cause CIRD, is that dogs will typically begin shedding virus before they display any symptoms of disease. Thus, a dog that appears perfectly healthy can be shedding virus and is
therefore capable of infecting other dogs.
What are the treatments for Canine Influenza?
The only treatment for a dog that is infected with CIV is to provide supportive care. (ie. hospitalization, IV fluids, Antibiotics for secondary invaders, and in some cases oxygen supplementation).
How fast does it affect dogs after contact?
Based on the results of the challenge study that was performed for Vanguard® CIV licensure, it appears that dogs may begin to display symptoms of respiratory disease between 2 and 5 days after infection with CIV H3N81. It is important to note that in the same study, peak viral shedding was seen from 2–5 days, so it is possible that a dog with no or very early symptoms of respiratory disease may, in fact, be shedding CIV and capable of infecting other dogs.
How is Canine Influenza spread?
CIV is spread through direct contact with other dogs, infectious respiratory secretions (such as aerosolized droplets from sneezing) and through contact with contaminated objects such as toys, bedding, human clothing and water bowls.
How infectious Is the Canine Influenza Virus?
All dogs are considered naive to the new virus and thus are at risk for infection. Many boarding facilities are now requiring the new as well as the old strains of Influenza. We are offering a new combined vaccine against both strains of the Flu virus. We are trying to stay ahead of a potential outbreak in our area. The manufacturer is recommending a booster of the new strain 3-4 weeks after your pet’s initial vaccine. We agree with this recommendation to fully protect your pet.