Dog Flu! What Do I Need To Know About Dog Flu Virus By Your Carmel Veterinary Hospital

Dog Flu!  Your Carmel Veterinary Hospital Explains What You Need To Know About Dog Flu Virus

How can my dog get the canine flu virus? ¬†The canine influenza virus, or dog flu virus, is a relatively new disease. ¬†It was first seen in Florida in a population of racing greyhounds in 2004. ¬†Since then it has spread across the country, most recently in the Chicago area. ¬†The dog flu virus can easily spread from respiratory secretions of coughing dogs as well as on objects such as clothing, floor, dog bowls, toys, etc… ¬†The virus is stable outside the body for about 2 days so if you have been around any coughing dogs, make sure to wash your clothes and your hands like we do at our Carmel veterinary hospital. Bleach is an effective cleaning agent that will kill the dog flu virus. ¬†The dog influenza virus is NOT transmissible to humans.

What are the symptoms of dog flu infection?  Dogs that have been exposed to the dog flu virus usually will start showing signs 2-5 days later.  We are still learning a lot about this disease, but an estimated 75% of dogs exposed will become sick.  The dog flu virus replicates in the surface of the respiratory tract, causing the top layer of cells to die.  The underlying respiratory tract tissue exposure allows for secondary bacterial infections to occur.  The most common clinical signs of dog flu are hacking cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge.   These symptoms can occur with many other upper respiratory diseases such as kennel cough or bordatella which we commonly see at our Carmel veterinary hospital.  These more common upper respiratory diseases usually respond to supportive care and are better in 7-10 days.  Most dogs with the canine influenza virus, however, will have a cough that last 2-4 weeks.  Some dogs develop a more serious complication with the dog flu including high fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, difficulty breathing, and in some cases pneumonia and even death.

How can I protect and prevent my dog from getting the dog flu virus?  The best way to protect your dog is to prevent exposure to sick coughing dogs.  Any boarding kennels or doggy daycare facilities with a known outbreak should be shut down for a deep decontamination cleaning for a few days.  There is a canine influenza vaccine.  The only problem is that this most recent outbreak in Chicago is a different strain (H3N2) than the other dog influenza outbreaks in the past to which the vaccine was developed (H3N8).  As of this writing, it is not known if the H3N8 dog flu vaccine will provide immunity and protection from this new strain.  This disease will most likely make its way to the Indianapolis area and I predict we will start seeing cases of it in our Carmel veterinary hospital.  As of this writing, however, most boarding kennels, doggy day care facilities, dog parks, and groomers are not requiring the vaccine, but listen to your Carmel veterinary hospital for updates about this new disease.

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