Recently, pet owners in Chicago and the Midwest have been dealing with an outbreak of canine influenza virus (CIV), commonly known as canine influenza or “dog flu.” This particular outbreak is caused by a new strain of the virus, making it unlikely that pets have already acquired an immunity to it. The virus is very contagious and can cause illness in dogs ranging from mild to severe.
There is already an effective and safe vaccine available to prevent your pet from getting dog flu; this vaccine has been proven to control the spread and decrease the impact of the standard strain of CIV infection (H3N8). Currently, studies are being done to see if this vaccine can fight the new strain as well (H3N2).
Dr. Kyoko Yoshida of Hudson Animal Hospital agrees that the best form of protection for dogs against canine influenza is vaccination: “Since this virus is very contagious, airborne, and can even live on surfaces, it is important for pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated. Though testing is currently being done regarding the new strain of dog flu, the vaccine will definitely protect against regular CIV and may very well prove effective against the new strain as well.”
Symptoms of dog flu are similar to those of human influenza. You should contact a veterinarian immediately if your pet shows any of the following symptoms:
• Cough that sometimes produces phlegm
• No desire to eat or drink
• Lack of energy
Dogs that contract CIV should be evaluated right away by a veterinarian and may need to be admitted to the hospital for supportive care to facilitate recovery. If you suspect CIV in your pet, it is also very important to keep him or her isolated from other dogs, both in the home and in social settings, in order to help prevent transmission.
Remember, though, that prevention is key. Make sure your dog gets the highest level of protection that is available today. Before leaving your dog at any pet services facility such as a groomer, kennel, or doggie day spa, inquire about any other dogs with signs of illness. If your dog shows signs of illness, keep them out of any facility where they could possibly pass the canine flu on to other dogs or cats.
Located in the Upper West Side of New York City, Hudson Animal Hospital specializes in caring for pets that live in urban settings, which are prime places for illnesses to spread quickly in the pet population. If your pet has not yet received the canine influenza vaccine, you can call Hudson Animal Hospital at 212-706-4088 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Yoshida, Dr. Christopher Angiello, and their staff can help you get your dog up to date on all vaccinations and can also care for your pet if he or she gets canine influenza before being vaccinated.