French bulldog at homeWhile you may be dreading human flu season, canine influenza (dog flu) has been steadily infecting thousands of dogs across the United States and does not seem to be slowing down. Keep reading to learn more about canine influenza and how to protect your beloved pet.

History and Symptoms

Although there has been more discussion around canine flu since the H3N2 virus emerged in 2015, the illness has been around for a while. In fact, what’s referred to as canine influenza virus A developed from an equine flu strain (H3N8) and was first diagnosed in Florida in 2004.

Like equine-borne H3N8, the strain H3N2 was present in another species (birds) before it mutated and infected dogs. Collectively, these strains are often referred to as Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). This includes multiple viruses and bacterial infections that share similar pathologies.

Symptoms of CIV include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Excess nasal discharge
  • Watering eyes
  • Inappetance
  • Lethargy

Dogs with more severe symptoms may also experience high fever and dehydration. It’s important to have your pet examined if he or she shows any signs of CIV to ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Canine Influenza Facts

Like most respiratory viruses, CIV is transmitted through contact with other infected dogs. Symptoms typically emerge within 4-7 days.

Because it’s highly contagious, CIV moves very quickly in areas such as kennels, dog parks, doggie daycares, and grooming salons. However, any unvaccinated dog who comes into contact with the virus is at risk.

While cases of H3N2 have been reported among felines, the virus is still predominantly diagnosed in canines.

Why Vaccination is Important

Canine influenza (dog flu) is more of a risk to unvaccinated pets since the most recent strain did not exist in the U.S. until 2015.

One of the main reasons H3N2 has reached outbreak status is the fact that it’s a new virus. Therefore, any pet who has not been exposed previously (which is the majority of dogs) is susceptible to becoming ill.

Where H3N8 has been around for a few decades and has two available vaccines, this was not the case for H3N2 until recently. Luckily, a vaccine was introduced just last year in the fall of 2015.

Although some pet parents may be concerned about the necessity of certain vaccinations, it’s important to take canine influenza seriously. Many dogs will exhibit mild to moderate symptoms, but more severe cases can develop – especially among older pets, puppies, and those with co-occurring health issues. The best way to truly protect your pet (and others) is through vaccination.

A Message From Godspeed Animal Care

At Godspeed Animal Care, we take the health and safety of our pet patients very seriously. Because canine influenza is so contagious, we require all dogs be vaccinated against H3N2 and H3N8 before receiving services. This includes boarding and veterinary care through St. Francis Pet Resort & Rehabilitation Center.

Please contact us with questions or to schedule an appointment for your pet to receive one of these important vaccines.