- What is Canine Influenza? There are currently 2 strains of canine influenza, H3N8 and H3N2. CIV is a highly contagious “flu” that is able to cause respiratory illness in dogs. Canine influenza only affects dogs. Humans are not at risk of contracting it, but because the influenza strain can change the CDC does continue to monitor this.
- How serious is canine influenza? It can be very serious! Because it is a relatively new strain of flu (H3N8 was first reported in the US in 2003 and H3N2 was first reported in the US in 2015), dogs do not have any sort of immunity built up to defend themselves. Not only is it highly contagious, but virtually all dogs are at risk. Cases of H3N8 have been reported in 42 states, including Texas, since 2003. Cases of H3N2 have been reported already been reported in 30 states, including Texas, since March, 2015.
- What are the signs of canine influenza? The most common sign is a persistent cough, which makes it very hard to initially diagnose (due to its similarity to what is commonly referred to as kennel cough). In mild cases, signs can include a low-grade fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and a cough that can last for up to a month. In more severe, progressed stages, a high grade fever and pneumonia can develop.
- Is your dog at risk? Did it come from a shelter, rescue center, breeder, or pet store? Do you board your pet at a kennel or go to doggie daycare? Attend group dog training? Visit a grooming facility or dog parks? Enter or attend dog events? Come into contact with other dogs in the waiting room during visits to the vet? If so, your pet may be at risk.
- How is it spread? The same way as human flu: direct contact (touching noses, sharing water bowls & toys), through the air (sneezing & coughing), and via contaminated surfaces.
- How to protect your dog against canine influenza: There are vaccines to help protect your dog. The initial vaccine for each strain requires 2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart, followed by annual revaccination. If your dog is currently vaccinated for kennel cough (bordetella), it is a likely candidate for the canine influenza vaccines. In addition, if your dog has had any sort of upper respiratory infection be sure to keep them at home for about 2 weeks from the last day of symptoms to minimize the risk of spreading germs, routinely clean your dog’s food and water bowls and wash toys and bedding regularly.
- The Houston Humane Society offers BOTH canine influenza vaccines at our low cost Animal Wellness Center for just $18/each.