You can get the flu, but did you know your dog can as well? It’s called canine influenza (CIV) – or dog flu – and cases of it have been popping up all over the country. As of June 2017 following a recent outbreak at a dog show in Florida, new cases have been diagnosed in Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. There have even been confirmed cases right here in the Houston area. It can make dogs very sick and with a fatality rate of 20%, it is the deadliest of all upper respiratory diseases.
As a pet owner, here’s what you need to know: There are two strains of canine influenza – H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 has been around for several years but H3N2, an Asian strain of CIV, is brand new in the United States, which means dogs have not been exposed to it before and have no immunity.
A dog may have the CIV H3N2 for up to 24 days, which means the dog is contagious and spreading the disease throughout that time period. As a result, the infection can spread quickly among social dogs in inner cities, doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, sporting and show events and any location where dogs commingle. H3N2 is also incredibly contagious. It can be spread easily by direct contact with infected dogs (sniffing, licking, nuzzling), through the air (coughing, barking or sneezing), and by contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls and clothing.
Protect Your Dog
- To prevent the spread of disease, wash your hands with soap and water or disinfect them with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with dogs.
- Dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus.
- Consider vaccination against CIV based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk factors. If you answer yes to one or more of the questions below, your dog is greater risk for contracting canine influenza.
- Does your dog:
- Visit doggie day care?
- Board at a boarding facility or pet hotel?
- Attend training classes?
- Play at dog parks?
- Participate in dog-friendly events?
- Attend dog shows or sporting events?
- Often greet other dogs during walks?
- Does your dog:
Signs of Canine Influenza Virus
Because of this outbreak, we encourage you to be extra vigilant in preventing canine influenza. If you suspect your pet has canine influenza, keep them away from all other pets. This disease spreads very easily, so call us immediately if your pet is showing any symptoms such as:
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy/lack of energy
To help prevent the spread of canine influenza, please consider vaccinating your dog against the virus immediately. At Garden Oaks Veterinary Clinic, we carry the Bivalent Canine Flu vaccine, which will protect your pet against both strains. Call us at (713) 999-6095 to schedule your pet’s vaccination today or join us for the Dog Flu Day vaccination event on June 20th where we will be offering the canine influenza vaccine for $15 off.