Canine Influenza in Manhattan

We hope that you and your furry family members are enjoying the warm weather!  Recently, we have been receiving questions from some of our concerned clients about canine influenza that is affecting dogs in our area.  For the last few years we have been watching out for the new strain of canine influenza (H3N2) that has been affecting many dogs in other states.  Now, we have a few confirmed cases in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  So, we are writing to tell you about canine influenza, what puts dogs at risk, and what can be done to protect them. 

Canine InfluenzaCanine influenza is a relatively new disease and can be caused by two differnet viral strains, H3N8 and H3N2.  Both strains of canine influenza can cause respiratory disease in dogs.  Affected dogs may develop cough, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.  With proper medical attention, most dogs will recover.  However, in some cases, canine influenza can progress to a more severe condition, such as pneumonia, and even death.  Canine influenza is highly contagious so visiting places where dogs socialize such as doggie day care centers, dog parks, and boarding facilities places dogs at higher risk of becoming infected.  And dogs can spread the virus even before signs of illness apper which makes its spread more difficult to control. 

Fortunately, there are vaccines available for both influenza strains (and we have the bivalent vaccine so we only have to poke our patients once!).  These vaccines can, but do not always, prevent disease.  Vaccinated dogs that are exposed and do become sick usually suffer less severe and shorter duration symptoms than unvaccinated dogs.  The vaccine is given twice 2 to 4 weeks apart.  Thereafter, an annual booster for each influenza strain is recommended for continued protection.  And, as long as we have seen your dog within one year, you may make a no charge nurse's appointment for these vaccines.  

For now, we recommend these vaccines to dogs going to doggie day care or boarding facilities, or if they are very social at the park, in preparation to enter the "flu season" which is usually Springtime for dogs. 

As always, please feel free to call us with any other questions!