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canine influenzaYou’ve probably heard rumblings in the news about canine influenza over the last few years. Until recently, this relatively new disease has been a non-issue for pets in our area. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.

Canine influenza has been diagnosed a little too close to home, and now is the time for dog owners to educate themselves in order to protect their pets. At Huntington Veterinary Hospital, we know how much you love your dog, and protecting them against canine influenza is just one more thing we’re doing to help keep that tail wagging.

The Dirt on Canine Influenza

Kennel cough is a general name for an upper respiratory infection in dogs that’s highly contagious. This disease can be caused by several different viruses and bacteria.

In 2015, veterinarians in the Chicago area began reporting the spread of a strain of kennel cough that seemed to behave a little differently than other contagious upper respiratory infections. It was determined that this outbreak of kennel cough involved the canine influenza virus. This particular outbreak was caused by the H3N2 strain, which was previously only seen in Asia.

Canine influenza causes mild to moderate symptoms, including:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

Most dogs recover from canine influenza with supportive care. A small percentage, however, can develop pneumonia, which can have potentially serious consequences (including death).

Protecting Your Pooch

Viruses like canine influenza are spread through exposure to respiratory secretions. Knowing this, there are several things owners can do to help keep their pets healthy. These precautions are particularly important if your dog spends time around other pets. This includes going to a  dog park, doggy daycare, being boarded, being groomed, or attending training classes.

Check out the following tips to help prevent the spread of canine influenza:

  • Update those vaccines. Prevention is key! Administering your pet’s distemper vaccine as recommended provides protection against two common contributors to the kennel cough complex: Bordetella and the canine influenza virus strain H3N2. There is also a current canine flu vaccine available if your pet is already up-to-date on their vaccinations. Pets who are fully vaccinated are much more likely to avoid the illness altogether, and if they do become ill, they’re less likely to experience serious symptoms. Don’t forget that vaccines also need to be properly boostered.
  • Protect the weak. Very young animals, very old animals, or those who have a weakened immune system are at higher risk. Avoid putting these pets in high risk situations and double check that you’re not exposing them to other infected animals.
  • Keep clean. Good hygiene can go a long way. Remember that canine influenza is transmissible through respiratory secretions. These germs may be present on clothing, toys, water bowls, chew bones, and even human hands. Don’t share with pets of unknown health and be sure to wash your hands after touching other animals.

If your pet becomes ill, don’t delay in letting us know. While many dogs are able to fight off an upper respiratory infection, things can go south quickly. The sooner we get involved, the better your dog’s chance at making a full recovery. Please contact us with any other questions or concerns.