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Posted on 12-20-2016

Canine Influenza – what you need to know. 

There has been a lot of information about canine influenza (dog flu) in the news recently.  There have been a few outbreaks, and a new strain that came to the United States in 2015.  Read below for more information on the flu, what signs it causes, and how we can help prevent the spread.  If you have any questions, give Chatham Animal Hospital a call to talk with one of our doctors!

Canine influenza virus is a respiratory disease that is very similar to the human flu.  There are two known variants found in the United States, H3N8 and H3N2.  The H3N8 virus has been around longer than the H3N2 virus, which is becoming the more prevalent strain.  H3N2 originated in Asia, and likely jumped from birds to dogs. 

Canine influenza is spread via respiratory secretions.  Coughing, barking, sneezing, and contaminated objects can transmit the disease.  Dogs that frequently board, get groomed, or go to dog parks are at the highest risk. 

Signs of dog flu include coughing (moist or dry cough), sneezing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, fever, difficulty breathing, and lethargy.  If you notice these signs and your dog has contact with other dogs, suspicion for canine flu should increase. Many of the cases of dog flu are mild and self-limiting, similar to the human flu.  However, some dogs can have a very high fever and can go on to develop pneumonia.  If your pet is showing any of these signs, call to schedule an examination at Chatham Animal Hospital. 

There is no specific treatment for dog flu.  We aim to “support” your pet and keep them comfortable until the illness runs its course.  This can mean antibiotics to treat secondary infections, fluids to maintain hydration, and medications to control the severity of the coughing.  We will also discuss quarantine procedures to help prevent the further spread of the virus. 

The best way to prevent canine influenza is to avoid high risk scenarios, such as boarding, grooming, and dog parks.  This often isn’t possible or practical, so luckily we have two vaccines to help control the disease.  They are separate vaccines for the H3N8 and H3N2 variants.  Ultimately the vaccine manufacturers will combine these strains into one vaccine, but that isn’t available at this time.  Vaccination is recommended for higher risk pets, such as frequently boarding pets or dogs that require grooming.

Contact Our Cary Animal Hospital! 

Call Dr. Krakowski, Dr. Bailey, or Dr. Craddock at our Cary animal hospital to discuss if your pet is at risk for contracting the dog flu!  We have both vaccines on hand, and can get your pet protected during this busy holiday season!

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