What is Canine Influenza?

What is Canine Influenza?Canine flu is caused by the Canine Influenza virus and has recently become more of a concern in our community. The virus causes an upper respiratory infection that only affects dogs and can mimic clinical signs of kennel cough. Dogs that are more at risk of catching the disease are those that go to dog parks, doggy day care, grooming, and boarding facilities. It first showed up in 2004 in racing greyhounds and has since spread throughout many states in the US.

What are the clinical signs of Canine Flu?
Half of the animals infected with the virus get over the virus and never develop clinical signs. The other 50% of dogs infected have listlessness, nasal congestion, fever, and cough. A small percentage of dogs also develop pneumonia. Infected dogs are contagious whether or not they develop clinical signs. Dogs usually develop signs after 2-5 days after being exposed to the virus, and the course of infection lasts anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Dogs are contagious before they show any signs of disease and will shed the virus after the get over the disease.

How is Canine Flu transmitted?
The virus is transmitted through secretions and direct contact with an infected dog.

How do I prevent my dog from getting Canine Flu?
The best thing to do to prevent infection is to vaccinate your dog against Canine Influenza and to keep your dog away from other coughing dogs.

How does the Canine Flu vaccine work?
The Canine Influenza vaccine works similarly to human flu vaccine in that it will decrease the severity of clinical signs of the disease, it will not prevent infection. The vaccine also cuts down the time that dogs shed the virus and are contagious to other dogs. The vaccine consists of an initial series of 2 shots and then one shot yearly.

Does the Bordetella vaccine offer any protection against Canine Flu?
The Bordetella vaccine targets the main bacteria responsible for kennel cough. It does not offer any protection from Canine Influenza.

What do I do if my dog develops a cough?
It is always recommended to bring your dog to a veterinarian if he or she develops a cough. Among the complications of Canine Influenza there is the risk of developing pneumonia. Your veterinarian can determine whether any further treatment or diagnostic test are required to keep your dog from developing complications like pneumonia and to keep your dog healthy.

Who do I go to if I have more questions about the Canine Flu?
The best person to contact is your veterinarian. Veterinarians are equipped to answer any question that you may have about Canine Influenza and other diseases.

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