You may have heard about canine influenza in the news, but what is it? Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a flu virus that recently adapted to infect dogs. It was first found in the United States in 2015 and has caused several outbreaks around the country. The virus causes a severe upper respiratory infection leading to coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, fever and reduced appetite. In some cases the infection can lead to pneumonia and even death.
The virus is spread in aerosolized secretions from coughing or sneezing dogs and by contaminated objects or surfaces. It is most commonly spread among dogs housed together in boarding facilities and shelters but any dog can be exposed.
Similar to the human flu there is no specific treatment for the infection. Treatment consists of supportive care such as intravenous fluids, nutritional support and protection from secondary infections.
There is a vaccine that can provide protection from the influenza virus. Initially it is given in two shots, three weeks apart, and then once a year. It can stop or lessen the disease in your dog. You should discuss whether your dog needs the vaccine with your veterinarian. The vaccine is recommended for dogs who travel, stay in boarding facilities or interact with other dogs. If you are interested in getting the canine influenza vaccine for your dog or you would like information you can also contact the clinic at SYVHS.
There are also resources online where you can learn more about Canine Influenza and current outbreaks.
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