Most people are familiar with Bordetella, more commonly referred to as Canine Cough or Kennel Cough. But did you know your dog could catch the flu? Canine influenza can be a serious threat to your dog’s health, and can easily be confused with Bordetella. If you vaccinate your dog against Kennel Cough, you may wish to consider the Canine Influenza Vaccine as well.
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About dog flu
• Canine influenza only affects dogs and cannot be passed to humans.
• The virus that causes flu in dogs—canine influenza virus (CIV) H3N8—was first identified in January 2004. Dog flu cases have now been reported in 39 states.
• Because most dogs have no natural immunity against CIV, virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected.
Risk factors for dogs
• Just like Bordetella, dogs that spend time at boarding facilities, doggy daycares, groomers, dog parks, and group training are at a high risk of contracting canine influenza.
• Many facilities that require vaccination against Bordetella (canine cough) are beginning to see the benefit of also requiring vaccination against canine influenza.
Signs of the dog flu
• The most common sign of dog flu is a soft, wet cough that may last for 3 to 4 weeks. Other signs include fever, runny nose, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
• Like human flu, dog flu can lead to more serious conditions like pneumonia. Up to 8% of dogs that get the flu can die from the infection.
Recognizing the signs of dog flu is not enough to prevent spreading the disease.
– About 20% of infected dogs will show no signs of disease but can still spread CIV to other dogs.
– By the time a CIV-infected dog shows signs of illness, the dog is likely to have stopped spreading the virus.
(Prior to showing signs of illness, dogs can spread CIV to surrounding objects, which become sources of infection, as well as directly to other dogs.)
– Dog flu cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone. A veterinarian will need to perform blood tests to determine if a dog has the flu.
How you can protect your dog against the flu
• Vaccinating your pet is the best way to protect him/her against CIV.
• The first CIV vaccine approved in 2009, Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8 from Merck Animal Health, has been shown to reduce the spread of disease among dogs.
• Talk with your veterinarian and see if their dog’s lifestyle merits vaccination.