Dear Pet Parent,
Recently, we’ve been getting questions from some of our pet owners about a new dog virus called canine influenza (H3N2). They were concerned about stories they had seen or read in the news about dog flu outbreaks. In answering their questions, we realized that all of our dog owners may have similar questions and concerns. So we’re writing to tell you about canine influenza, what puts dogs at risk, and what can be done to protect them.
Canine influenza is a respiratory disease that can cause coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy. The signs of infection are similar to those of other respiratory diseases in dogs, but the coughing caused by canine influenza can last for several weeks. With proper care, most dogs generally recover. However, canine influenza can lead to more severe symptoms and conditions, such as decreased appetite, high fever, dehydration, and pneumonia.
Because canine influenza is caused by a relatively new virus, dogs have no natural immunity to it. And since it’s highly contagious (spread the same way as the common cold in humans), visiting places where dogs congregate, such as boarding facilities, doggie daycares, dog parks, pet supply stores or groomers, puts dogs at higher risk for catching this new virus. Making things more difficult is the fact that dogs can spread the virus before the coughing and other signs of sickness appear.
The best way to protect your dog from canine influenza is through vaccination and/or avoiding exposing your pets to the places listed above. Fortunately, a Canine Influenza H3N2 vaccine is available that aids in the control of disease caused by canine influenza. This vaccine has been safely administered to over a million dogs to date.
While we have the Canine Influenza H3N2 (newest flu strain) vaccine available, we recommend doing your own research on the risks and benefits of vaccinating your pet, as well as discussing it with your pets’ veterinarian. The Canine Influenza H3N2 vaccine is a “Lifestyle” vaccine and is NOT recommended for every dog. If your pet currently receives the Bordetella vaccine, they may be more likely to benefit from the Canine Influenza H3N2. Please call us to discuss any questions you might have or to set up an appointment at 253-588-1851. To give your dog the most complete protection, the initial vaccination requires two doses of vaccine given 3 to 4 weeks apart, followed by a single booster dose given annually.
The Pet Doctor
11419 Bridgeport Way SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
PS. If you would like to read more about canine influenza, www.doginfluenza.com offers a lot of good information.