Mixed breed dogCanine influenza, or dog flu, is a subject of great concern for many dog owners after last year’s initial outbreak and the more recent 2016 outbreak within the Chicago area. And rightly so, as both incidents have resulted in several cases of flu throughout the Midwest. Because the virus is so contagious, there is substantial cause for worry about how quickly the illness would be spread and its impact on canine health, but there’s no reason to panic, either.

An Overview of Dog Flu

Since the strains of Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) continue to imperil our four-legged pals, an understanding of this illness and tactics to reduce exposure are paramount to keeping the flu from continuing to spread.

The CIV strain H3N8 was initially thought to be a strain that was equine endogenous, or affecting only horses. However, the virus mutated and spread to canines sometime around 2004 when an outbreak occurred in Florida among a group of greyhounds.

Since this time, the virus has shown up across the United States.

More recently, the H3N2 virus, genetically similar to the H3N8 strain, emerged throughout Asia. In 2015, the virus made headlines in the States as thousands of dogs were diagnosed with the illness, which first showed up in the Chicago area.

While highly contagious, both strains of the virus have typically produced mild to moderate symptoms in otherwise healthy dogs.

Symptoms of CIV include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

The more severe cases of dog flu can put a dog at risk for dehydration and pneumonia, especially older dogs or those with existing illnesses.

Although the virus is viewed as a canine influenza, cats can also acquire H3N2 by being exposed to the illness.

Protecting Your Pet Against Canine Influenza

Because our canine companions are such social creatures, it is easy to understand why CIV has the potential to reach epidemic numbers. From dog parks to kennels, as well as the millions of animals in shelters, the risk of exposure is high.

Thankfully there are vaccinations available for both strains of influenza.

At Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates, our wellness care plans for cats and dogs cover the vaccines and preventatives to keep your pet safe from influenza, Bordetella, and a number of other contagious infections.

We also welcome any questions you might have about CIV and how to minimize your pet’s exposure to the illness.

Other ways to help keep your furry friend’s exposure to a minimum can include:

  • Washing your hands and clothing after petting or handling another animal
  • Keeping your pet on a high quality, nutritious diet that supports immunity and overall health
  • Quarantining sick pets by providing a comfortable, separate area within the home for them – away from other pets
  • Ensuring your pet’s annual vaccines and monthly parasite preventatives are maintained
  • Scheduling an examination right away if your pet exhibits symptoms of illness

We encourage you to empower yourself with information on the Canine Influenza Virus by staying ahead of the latest outbreaks and how to avoid high risk areas.

To learn more or to schedule your four-legged friend’s vaccinations, give us a call.