Here are some key facts and answers about canine influenza. As of now, The Grand Paw, is not requiring the vaccine but we highly recommend it. Starting January 1, 2019 we will be requiring the vaccine.

In 2005, newspapers, television news programs and Internet websites were filled with stories about canine influenza, a new flu-like disease rumored to be sweeping the country. But, how new is canine influenza, really? How did it develop? How is it spread? How do veterinarians treat it? And, what are a few, common sense precautions that may lessen your pet’s risk?

When was the first outbreak and how did it develop?

Until 2005, canine influenza outbreaks were contained to greyhound racetracks and affected only racing dogs. According to the CDC, the first evidence of canine influenza in companion dogs was documented in spring 2005 when shelters, boarding facilities, humane societies and veterinarians submitted samples from dogs suspected of carrying the disease. Currently, the canine influenza virus includes two strains, one virus that mutated from horses (H3N8) and another that mutated from birds (H3N2). Currently, these two canine influenza strains have spread throughout the US to all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Is my dog at risk?

Because canine influenza is a relatively new disease, all dogs are susceptible to infection, and no dogs are immune. Fortunately, there is now a vaccine that can reduce the likelihood that your dog gets canine influenza.

Is canine influenza fatal?

Usually not. Most dogs diagnosed with canine influenza experience a mild form of the disease. They usually suffer from a persistent cough that may last for as long as three weeks and may experience a yellowish nasal discharge that can be treated effectively with antibiotics. Dogs that experience a stronger version of canine influenza frequently have a high fever and exhibit increased respiratory rates and other indications of pneumonia. Currently, antibiotics treat this form of the disease successfully in about 95 percent of the cases.

How is canine influenza spread?

At present, canine influenza appears to be an airborne disease, much like canine cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica). Physical contact between dogs does not seem to be required. To date, there are no documented cases of humans contracting canine influenza from dogs.

How do I protect my dog?

While there is no guarantee that your dog won’t contract canine influenza, there is now a vaccine to better protect your dog. In some cases, the vaccine can prevent your dog from contracting the virus or its symptoms altogether. In other cases, vaccinated dogs can still become infected, but are likely to develop milder symptoms and recover more quickly. The greater the exposure your dog has to other dogs, the greater the chance of infection. If your dog socializes frequently with other dogs, goes to dog parks, is boarded, goes to training class or is groomed, the odds of exposure are greater than if your dog remains only at home. Other than keeping your dog at home, the best way to protect your dog is to make sure the canine influenza vaccine is always up-to-date. If your pet exhibits signs of a respiratory illness, be sure to keep your dog from contacting other dogs and contact your veterinarian.

What are the symptoms of canine influenza?

The symptoms are very similar to canine cough. The incubation period is approximately 2-5 days. The first indication is a cough that may last for as long as three weeks in spite of treatment with antibiotics. According to an advisory issued by the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, “Most dogs have a soft, moist cough, while others have a dry cough similar to that induced by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus infection. Many dogs have purulent nasal discharge and a low-grade fever. The nasal discharge likely represents a secondary bacterial infection that quickly resolves with treatment with a broad-spectrum, bactericidal antibiotic.” Remember, coughing may be an indication of any of a variety of diseases. Your veterinarian is best qualified to make the diagnosis.