Elkridge Animal Hospital often gets questions from concerned pet parents about the Canine Influenza Virus especially with the recent headline news of the virus spreading around Chicago. Dr. Verma thought that this would good time to address this issue and help you better understand the risks.
In order to know if your dog should receive the Canine Influenza Virus vaccine, we should evaluate your pet and your pet’s exposure risk since we don’t want to give vaccines that might not be necessary for your pet’s health. Canine flu is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or it’s fluids/secretions. Dogs may have the infection yet not show symptoms of the virus. So, if your dog is around other dogs on a regular basis (such as kennels, dog parks, etc.) it might be a good idea to vaccinate.
Symptoms of canine flu may include fever, coughing, runny nose, or restlessness. A small percentage of infected dogs may develop pneumonia which could be life threatening.
Canine flu is treated based on the severity of the symptoms and infection. Treatment may involve the use of antibiotics to prevent secondary infections or fluid therapy to reduce fevers along with other forms of supportive care. Severe cases may even require prolonged hospitalization. Thankfully, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate with canine influenza is relatively low.
A diagnosis can be confirmed using respiratory secretions at the onset of symptoms or collecting blood samples at the onset of illness which may need to be repeated 2-3 weeks later. The costs associated with testing may be a barrier for some so often a diagnosis is not confirmed until after an outbreak is suspected. Since a diagnosis isn’t always confirmed; treatment may be based on symptoms and treated as a general viral infection.
If you have any further questions about canine flu, we would recommend you consult with our veterinarians here at Elkridge Animal Hospital to discuss any exposure risk before deciding on the vaccine.