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Canine Flu – A New Rapidly Spreading Disease In Dogs

Canine Flu – A New Rapidly Spreading Disease In Dogs

Did you know that there is a new disease that is spreading dogs? It is canine influenza, also called canine flu or dog flu.

This new disease was first identified in 2004 in Florida and has since spread to most states in the US. Canine flu was first found in racing greyhounds. The disease then spread to racing greyhounds in 9 other states, before being found in other dogs.

Where did canine flu come from?

A subtype of influenza A, called H3N8, has been known to infect horses for more than 40 years. Shortly before 2004, the H3N8 virus jumped from dogs to horses, and then dogs started to become infected with this subtype of influenza.

Why nearly every dog exposed to canine flu will catch it

Canine flu could potentially become a big problem in dogs. The reason for this is that it is a new disease. Consequently, there are no dogs that have previously been exposed to the virus. Therefore, no dog is going to have immunity to this flu virus, hence all dogs are susceptible to this dog flu.

This lack of immunity means that virtually every dog that is exposed to the H3N8 virus is going to become infected and get flu. Therefore, canine influenza is very contagious.

What are the symptoms of canine flu?

About 80 % of dogs that get flu have mild symptoms. Of the dogs that have more serious symptoms there have been some deaths.

Like any influenza virus the symptoms are going to be respiratory. The most common symptoms are coughing and a runny nose. Many dogs will get a very mild fever. The more serious symptoms generally involve the lungs and development of pneumonia.

Where is canine flu found?

Currently canine flu has been shown by testing to be in most states of the US. Since many dogs are probably not tested, it is likely that H3N8 dog flu is more widespread, with more dogs having been infected than testing indicates.

Anywhere that there are many dogs are in close quarters, it is easy for dog flu to spread. For this reason the N3H8 flu is becoming a common disease in shelters, boarding kennels and doggy day care in some areas.

Is there a vaccine for H3N8 canine flu?

A vaccine for H3N8 canine influenza was granted a full license by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) on June 9 2010. This vaccine will prevent many, but not all dogs, from catching flu. In those that do become infected with H3N8 after receiving the vaccine, the symptoms should be very mild.

Should you get your dog vaccinated for canine flu?

The vaccine for H3N8 canine influenza is not a core vaccine.

If your dog is already receiving Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccinations, then consider getting the flu H3N8 vaccine too. This is because where a dog is at a higher risk of getting Bordetella, they are also at an increased risk of getting canine flu. Some boarding kennels in areas where there are now high levels of dog influenza are starting to request that dogs are immunized with the H3N8 vaccine in addition to Bordetella.

If your dog is not going to be in close contact with lots of other dogs, then useless there are significant levels of H3N8 flu locally, or your dog has certain health problems, your vet will likely suggest that it is not necessary. Ask your vet about what is right for your dog.