Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog
Canine Flu: What You Can Do
It seems there’s a new story every week about a canine flu outbreak. This virus is a highly contagious airborne condition that can affect every breed, age, and size of dog.
Nearly all cases of canine flu are passed through indoor contact, doggy day care, dog parks, boarding, or grooming. It’s only through owner awareness, adhering to shared space policies, and the availability of the canine flu vaccine that more dogs can avoid contracting this illness.
Hanford Veterinary Hospital walks you through what you can do about the canine flu.
The Spread of Canine Flu
There is no “canine flu” season, and dogs can contract it at any time. Canine flu causes a respiratory infection in dogs, and is spread through aerosolized droplets released from coughing, barking, or sneezing.
There are two strains of canine flu: H3N8 and H3N2. The first strain, originally an equine disease, was discovered in 2004 after an outbreak at a Greyhound racing track in Florida. Dogs were affected in 30 states during that outbreak. Dogs with the H3N8 strain are contagious and shed the virus for 5 days.
The other strain, H3N2 was first noted in March 2015 when hundreds of dogs in the Chicago area were infected. The virus was identified as H3N2 avian strain, which originated in Asia. This strain is challenging to control and treat as it’s shedding period is over 24 days, and can be intermittent. Unlike H3N8, H3N2 can affect cats as well.
Canine Flu Risks
Canine flu is a relatively new disease, and dogs do not have any natural immunity. And because it’s so contagious, chances are that if your dog is exposed, he’ll get sick.
Dogs in close contact – in shelters, boarding or grooming facilities, or those who visit dog parks and indoor play groups – are at higher risk. Many dogs travel with their owners and can both spread the disease and contract it easily. Vaccination for these dogs may be prudent. Talk to us about whether or not the canine flu vaccine is right for your dog.
The Dangers of Dog Flu
Dogs who contract the canine flu can experience the following signs:
- Discharge from the eyes and nose
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In some cases canine flu can be fatal. Call us right away if you notice any of these signs. Depending on the strain, the virus will be shed from days to several weeks through airborne secretions. Direct contact with a contagious dog should be avoided. Contaminated surfaces could include floors, clothing, food and water bowls, bedding, and leashes and toys. These household areas should all be disinfected.
Sick dogs should be isolated from other household pets.
Symptoms of canine flu can be treated with supportive care, rest, medication, and fluids. Sometimes, hospitalization is required.
Awareness and Prevention
To keep our pet guests safe, we have a policy of requiring the canine flu vaccine in order to board with us. If your pet is sick, please call us so we can discuss a plan for when you bring her in to see us – we may recommend you wait with her in the car until we’re ready to bring her to an exam room in order to protect our other pet patients.
Prevention is definitely our best medicine in the case of canine flu. If you have any questions about this or any other health related concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is here for you and your pet!