Each year we as dog owners have to take our dogs to the vet for their annual vaccines. Because we love our furry little friends, we want them to be able to socialize with as little risk of getting sick as possible. Just like our own children, we want them to be protected against anything that can potentially be harmful to them. Sure we’ve heard of people getting vaccinated for the flu, but what about our dogs? Why not protect our pets when we have the ability to do so? Canine influenza is something a lot of people aren’t super familiar with, but it is very important for us to educate ourselves on the matter. Not only for the safety of our own dogs, but for dog safety worldwide.
What is canine influenza? According to Merck Animal Health, “it is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is caused by canine influenza virus (CIV) Type A.” Although we’re now starting to hear more about the canine flu, the first strain of it, CIV H3N8, was first reported in racing greyhounds in Florida back in 2004. It is believed that this first affected horses and made its way to dogs. This strain can also be a little harder for veterinarians to diagnose. The second strain, CIV H3N2, was more recently found here in the United states- although it was first found in South Korea in 2006. This strain of the virus is of avian origin and had spread to 30 states in the U.S. by April 2016. Every year more and more dogs are traveling from state to state with their families for vacations, road-trips, etc. Because dogs are being transported so much more than before, they are also exposed to more things that could be harmful to them. Which results in contagious illnesses, like the flu, being picked up and spread of course. The canine flu is not a seasonal virus like the human flu, which means it can be caught year-round.
How is canine influenza spread? For the most part, it is spread the same way the common cold would spread through people, and we all know how easy that is to get. Does your dog regularly attend a daycare or dog park? It is most commonly spread through dog to dog contact. This could be as simple as licking one another or even sniffing each other. Sharing water bowls and toys is of course another big way it is spread. Lastly, dogs can even get sick by merely coming into contact with us! If we unknowingly come into contact with the virus, our clothes, hands, and other surfaces can be contaminated in an instant. It’s that contagious. Any dog no matter their age, size, or breed can get the flu- it does not discriminate.
How do I know if my dog has the flu? The most common signs include, but are not limited to: coughing, retching, sneezing, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, and lethargy. Although many cases of the flu are relatively mild, there is a small percentage of dogs who are plagued with severe cases. For instance, if the dog is very young or very old their immune systems are more compromised. Therefore, they are at greater risk for receiving the more severe cases because their bodies aren’t able to fight off the virus as well. Many people have the misconception that the canine flu is the same thing as kennel cough, because without diagnosis all canine respiratory illnesses can look similar. However, the flu is a viral disease which results in it being more difficult to treat than kennel cough.
With all of that being said, I think we all can agree that getting your dog the flu vaccine is the right thing to do. Let’s face it, if your dog does end up getting sick, you’ll be paying much more for vet visits than you would just getting the vaccine. Like most vaccines, this does have to be boostered two to three weeks after the initial vaccine. Once you’ve done that it will just be another annual vaccine to add to the list. Remember, the first priority of all canine facilities is dog safety. Most of these places will be requiring the flu vaccine in the near future if they aren’t already, so it wouldn’t hurt to get it sooner rather than later. Stop into your local vet’s office today to set up an appointment, that way your pup can get back to playing without a sweat!
*** As a reminder to all current or potential clients of Good Dog Hotel and Spa, we are requiring both rounds the canine influenza vaccine by 3/1/2020. For any questions you have about this, call us at 317-255-2525!