Canine Flu is not a disease we need to panic about at this time, however, we do need to be aware of this disease and take measures to protect our furry companions.  This pet safety alert has been prepared to help educate our clients so that we can prepare as best as we can to prevent exposure and illness related to the Canine FluCanine Flu | Harmony Animal Hospital

The current strains are H3N8 (emerged in 2004) and the newer H3N2 (which first emerged in Chicago in 2015).  The Canine Flu vaccine this year is much improved from the vaccine that was available last year. Last year the vaccine only contained the older H3N8 strain, which offered some cross protection against the H3N2 strain. This year’s CIV vaccine is far superior as it contains both the older H3N8 and the newer H3N2 strains, which will offer protection against both highly infectious and potentially deadly strains of the Canine Flu. For more information about the vaccine visit ask Dr. Jodi.

What You Need to Know

  • After exposure, it only takes up to 4 days for a dog to become infected and show symptoms of the virus
  • An infected dog sheds the virus for approximately 3 weeks, even if they are not showing signs
  • 80 percent of unvaccinated dogs will become infected once exposed
  • While most dogs will develop mild signs, 10 percent of infected dogs will develop severe pneumonia
  • 8 percent of infected dogs will pass away
  • It is important to understand that not all dogs exposed to CIV will show signs, thus there can be dogs who are asymptomatic carriers that can pass the disease onto other dogs and no one would be able to tell which dog was harboring the virus.
  • The Canine Flu is a virus. Antibiotics are not effective against the disease, however, many patients may receive antibiotics during treatment to prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections.
  • There are no reported cases of the CIV being transmitted to people, but there have been a few confirmed cases in cats at one shelter in Indiana who were exposed to infected dogs.

Dogs At Risk

While ALL dogs have the potential to contract the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), the dogs most at risk are dogs who are exposed to higher populations of dogs.  For example, the ones who travel for dog shows and competitions, are coming from shelters, or are around other large gatherings of dogs. Any dogs who are directly or indirectly exposed to other dogs outside their home can be at risk.

How It’s Transmitted

The virus is mainly transmitted by direct contact but can be spread by aerosol with a cough or sneeze for up to 20 feet.  The virus is also stable in the environment for up to 48 hours and can be carried on our clothing, unwashed hands, bedding, towels, and other items in contact with an infected dog.  The virus is readily inactivated by disinfectants and most household cleaners, so environmental decontamination is effective and necessary to limit the spread of the virus.

Canine Flu Prevention

The best prevention is to keep your dog away from other dogs if at all possible, but when that is not feasible there is a vaccination that can help prevent the disease. Harmony Animal Hospital recommends administering the Canine Flu vaccine for any dogs who travel to shows or competitions, are boarded, participate in doggy day care, go to dog parks, or are around other dogs outside their home (even if it is infrequent). We also recommend that dogs owned by pet care workers are vaccinated, since we can unknowingly bring this virus home to our own dogs. Our recommendations are not only to avoid areas of higher dog populations, but to practice good hygiene at home and vaccinate any at risk dogs.

Vaccination and Treatment

The CIV vaccine protocol is to vaccinate all at risk dogs over 6 weeks of age.  An initial vaccine is given, followed by a booster vaccine within 2-4 weeks.  It is then boostered annually for dogs who continue to carry a risk of being infected with CIV.  If your dog has been vaccinated with the older H2N8 vaccine in the past, they need to start over with the two initial boosters, since the new CIV vaccine also has the new H2N3 strain. Once your dog has been vaccinated it will take at least 2-4 weeks past the second booster to consider them maximally protected against the virus.

Although there will be some protection after the initial vaccine is administered, it is important to understand that your dog is still at risk of contracting the CIV for up to a month past the second vaccine booster. For dogs exposed to the virus during the initial vaccine to immunity period there is still some risk of contracting the disease. However, there will still be some benefit as your dog will likely have a milder form of the disease or potentially just become asymptomatic short term carriers.

Let Us Help

Harmony Animal Hospital will be participating in the Merck Animal Health Canine Influenza Awareness Day on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. On this date only, we will be offering a $15 discount for the CIV vaccine. The cost of each vaccine is $35, which will be discounted to $20 on June 20th only.

Since vaccines are a medical therapy and carry some risks, the protocol for administering the vaccine is detailed below:

  • If your dog is healthy with no medical issues and has had a physical exam by a veterinarian within the past 6 months, we can administer the CIV vaccine without a doctor examination.
  • If your pet is healthy and it has been longer than 6 months since the last physical exam, we will require a brief examination and consultation ($40) to discuss the risks and benefits of the CIV vaccine for your dog.
  • If your pet has concerning medical issues, we will need to perform a complete examination and consultation ($55) prior to administering the CIV vaccine.
  • No examination will be required for the CIV booster vaccine which is administered 2-4 weeks after the initial vaccine.