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What is Canine Influenza?
Influenza viruses have been the subject of concern for humans, wildlife, and domestic animals for many decades. Dogs were largely felt to be exempt from the flu until 2004 when a new canine influenza virus was found in several groups of Florida racing greyhounds.
In the last weeks of September 2005 and continuing into October, numerous warnings to dog owners about a new lethal canine disease swept the Internet. Some of these warnings contained legitimate information while others contained half-truths or information that is simply wrong. Here are some facts about Canine Influenza we hope you will find helpful.
What Happens to the Sick Dogs?
Infection rate is high, but 20-50% will simply make antibodies and clear the infection without any signs of illness at all. The other 50-80% will get symptoms of the flu: they will have fevers, listlessness, coughing, and a snotty nose. Most dogs will recover with supportive treatment (antibiotics, perhaps nebulization/humidification, etc.). A small percentage of dogs will get pneumonia. These dogs are the ones at risk for death, and support becomes more aggressive: hospitalization, intravenous fluid therapy etc. Most of these dogs will recover as well, as long as they receive proper care. Mortality rate is 5-8%.
Because this is an emerging disease, few dogs will have immunity to it unless they have received one of the new vaccines. This means that any dog unvaccinated for influenza is a candidate for infection.
• The point is not to ignore a coughing dog.
• Do not allow your dog to socialize with coughing dogs. If your dog develops a cough, see your veterinarian.
• If your dog develops a snotty nose, listlessness, and cough, our veterinarians may want to send out tests to the reference lab to confirm that a flu virus is at fault. This will help to guide the treatment protocol.
• Vaccination against Kennel Cough (Bordetella) does not provide immunity against any influenza virus. Our veterinarians can consult with you about vaccinating your dog for influenza. Vaccination is recommended for dogs that board frequently, attend group training classes or events with other dogs, play regularly at the dog park or doggie daycare, or who go to the groomer.
If you have any questions about canine influenza, the vaccine, or if your pet is showing symptoms, please contact our office for an appointment.