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Canine Influenza: What You Need To Know

Canine Influenza: What You Need To Know

A new strain of Canine Influenza has broken out this year with numerous confirmed cases across the US. The most recent information available to us indicates that 32 cases have been confirmed in Minnesota in Wright County. Due to recent media attention regarding the new flu strain, many people are wondering if their own dog may be at risk. 

Firstly, it is of importance to be aware that there are currently two forms of Canine Influenza. H3N8 is the "old" version and was first identified in 2004. The newer version that was identified in 2015 is the H3N2 strain. There has been a vaccine available for the H3N8 strain for some time now, but it does not cross-protect against H3N2. There is now a vaccine available for the new H3N2 strain. For full protection dogs must receive 2 vaccinations, 3 weeks apart. It takes time for the body to mount an appropriate immune response and full immunity is not reached until 2-3 weeks after the second booster. 

Canine Influenza is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory discharge from infected dogs (e.g., contact with the nasal discharge, etc.); by air through sneezing, barking, coughing; or by exposure to contaminated objects (e.g., such as dog bowls, cages, clothing, etc.)Indoor dogs that do not routinely socialize with other dogs, and are not taken to boarding facilities, doggy-day-care or dog parks are at the lowest risk for flu and unlikely to be exposed. Dogs that go to shows, day-care, boarding facilities or are exposed to environments with high dog numbers have a higher risk of exposure. 

We advise all dog owners to protect their pets by avoiding any unnecessary contact with other dogs. This includes avoiding common gathering places such as dog parks. Owners and their pets should also avoid known locations where influenza has been reported. Avoid close contact with any coughing dog, even if your own dog is not currently with you, as infection can potentially occur from contact with contaminated clothing, shoes, etc. 

Symptoms to watch for include

  • Coughing
  • Excessive panting
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Not eating
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue-tinged gums

If your dog exhibits any of these signs, please keep him isolated from other dogs and contact your veterinarian immediately.  We ask that anyone with a dog showing potential symptoms of influenza to please contact us by phone for a consultation prior to bringing your dog into the clinic. You may be asked to take special precautions to limit your dog's exposure to other patients in the clinic. 

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the H3N2 outbreak, or if you would like to schedule your dog for vaccination. 

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