Vaccination for Dog Flu

Canine influenza (dog flu) is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV). The canine influenza virus is a highly contagious disease that causes a respiratory infection in dogs. Although most dogs will only experience a mild course of the disease, some dogs may develop a more serious form of the infection like pneumonia.

The canine influenza virus is transmitted from one dog to another by aerosolized respiratory secretions from a dog coughing or sneezing, or when a dog comes into physical contact with other infected dogs. It can also be transmitted if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (food bowls or toys for example). Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs from their hands or clothing if they come in contact with an infected dog. Transmission happens wherever dogs have close contact with other dogs. Dogs in kennels, shelters, Groomers, daycare, or at the dog park are at a higher risk of contracting canine influenza. Canine influenza can occur year round.

The symptoms of canine influenza resemble those of kennel cough. Dogs infected with canine influenza develop coughing, and sometimes a runny nose or thick nasal discharge. Other symptoms include fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and decreased appetite. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian and avoid taking him or her anywhere (other than the veterinarian’s office) until a full recovery has been made.

There is no specific cure for canine influenza, but treatment of the disease is supportive care and alleviating the symptoms. Treatment typically involves preventing/controlling secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics while the disease runs its course. Animals that are more severely affected by the disease may also require hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy.

Canine influenza is preventable by Vaccination. It is recommended that your dog is vaccinated once a year with the flu vaccine that protects against both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains of canine influenza.

If you board your dog at a kennel or daycare facility, be sure to use reputable businesses that you trust. Make sure that the facility is well-managed and clean, and has a plan for isolating dogs with signs of respiratory illness.
If your dog has had a recent respiratory infection, be sure to keep him or her at home for at least four weeks to allow the dog to recover fully and to minimize the risk of spreading the infection to other dogs. Be sure to clean and disinfect clothing, surfaces, and hands after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent transmission of infection to susceptible dogs. In addition, routine cleaning of your dog’s food and water bowls and toys with soap and water may help prevent the spread of disease.

By Allison Messina DVM