Is my dog at risk for Dog Flu?

What is Dog Flu?

In 2004 a new strain of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) H3N8 was identified after a severe outbreak of respiratory illness at a Greyhound racing facility in Florida. It is believed to have jumped from another species, most likely horses. Dog flu cannot be spread to people.

Since then, sporadic outbreaks have occurred in almost every state in the US. California is one of the most recently affected states, with several confirmed outbreaks in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one in Fresno. Recently, dogs have tested positive in Los Angeles for a second strain of the virus, H3N2.

Most outbreaks have occurred in animal shelters, rescue groups, pet stores, boarding kennels and veterinary clinics. The virus is spread by coughing, sneezing, and by contact with items that infected dogs have coughed and sneezed on.

What are the symptoms?

Mild infection with Canine Influenza causes a soft, moist cough and low grade fever. Yellow or green nasal discharge will be present if a secondary bacterial infection occurs. More severe illness can result in high grade fever as well as difficulty breathing, which can indicate pneumonia secondary to the infection. Most cases last 10-30 days with or without treatment. Although most dogs recover without incident, some deaths have occurred.

Should my dog be vaccinated?

While the virus is still extremely uncommon in California, the Los Angeles Veterinary Public Health Department is recommending that dogs that frequently go to dog parks, groomers, boarding facilities, or daycare should be vaccinated against Canine Influenza.

Pro Pet Fix carries the bivalent vaccine which protects against both H3N8 and H3N2 strains of CIV. The initial vaccine should be followed by a booster in 3 weeks, and then annual revaccination.

For more information, check out the AVMA’s Knowledge Base Article on Canine Influenza