Friday, June 26, 2015

The Facts on Canine Flu and Keeping Your Dog Healthy

Rocco Havanese skateboard dog
Rocco says his playtime is serious business. Help your pups stay
healthy so they can keep playing!
Keeping your dog healthy is the first step toward a fit dog lifestyle, so what to do about all the recent buzz about dog flu?

Do you take your dog to dog parks? To boarding facilities or doggie daycare?

Canine influenza (dog flu) has been spreading throughout the continental United States, including our home state of Georgia, so the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has provided these tips and some information to help dog owners better understand the virus.

What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) in the U.S. is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. 


What are common symptoms of the infection in dogs?
In the mild form, the most common sign is a cough that persists for 2-3 weeks. However, some dogs can develop signs of severe pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever (104°F-106°F) and faster breathing. Other signs in infected dogs include nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, fatigue, and refusing food.

Is every dog at risk of infection?
All dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection.

How does it spread?
Canine influenza is spread from dog to dog through the air, contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people interacting with infected and uninfected dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.

Can veterinarians test for canine influenza?
The most reliable and sensitive method for confirmation is serologic testing. Antibodies to canine influenza virus can appear in blood as early as 7 days after symptoms begin, and the virus may be identified in nasal or pharyngeal swabs during the first 4 days of illness.

Is there a vaccine?
There are vaccines against the H3N8 strain of canine influenza, which was first discovered in 2004 and until 2015 was the only strain of canine influenza found in the United States. However, a 2015 outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago was traced to the H3N2 strain – the first reporting of this strain outside of Asia -- and it is not known whether the H3N8 vaccine provides any protection against this strain. Used against H3N8, the vaccines may not completely prevent infection, but appear to reduce the severity and duration of the illness, as well as the length of time when an infected dog may shed the virus in its respiratory secretions and the amount of virus shed – making them less contagious to other dogs.

Can canine influenza infect people?
There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
For more information about canine influenza virus, visit https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx

Take precautions so you can still play with your pup pals!

So what about putting your dog in daycare or boarding? Should you be concerned?

According to the AVMA's Canine Influenza FAQ, as long as good infection control practices are in place, pet owners should not be overly concerned about putting dogs in training facilities, dog parks, kennels, or other areas frequented by dogs. If you're not sure, ASK your doggie facility what they are doing to take precautions. You should feel good (at least in my opinion) if your facility is transparent about the precautions they are taking.

How can you take precautions if you suspect exposure to canine flu?
The spread of canine flu can be reduced by isolating ill dogs as well as those who are known to have been exposed to an infected dog and those showing signs of respiratory illness. Good hygiene and sanitation, including hand washing and thorough cleaning of shared items and kennels, also reduce the spread of canine flu. Influenza viruses do not usually survive in the environment beyond 48 hours and are inactivated or killed by commonly used disinfectants.


One last note: Not all coughs are related to canine influenza

There are a number of reasons a dog might cough -- an inhaled irritant can cause a scary sounding cough.  I went through that with Cosmo when he inhaled a piece of grass. Common causes can also be kennel cough or more serious illnesses like congestive heart failure or lung disease. Unfortunately we went through lung disease as well when Cosmo was diagnosed with cancer.

The bottom line

If your dog is coughing or doing anything unusual, go visit your vet. Your vet can examine and evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

Do you have any question about the dog flu that you'd like to ask the AVMA?
Let us know in the comments below and we'll post the AVMA's answers next week.


The fun and games continue every Friday with FitDog Friday, the weekly Blog Hop brought to you by To Dog With LoveSlimDoggy and My GBGV Life to promote a healthy active lifestyle for pets (and their people, too!). Join in every Friday by linking up your FitDog story or visiting the blogs in the Hop.

18 comments:

  1. There was a case of the flu in a shelter dog last week, but so far it was an isolated incident. Mom kind of works it like human illnesses. Be smart, take some precautions, but don't panic. Bailie and I are healthy and should be able to fight if off if we would get it, but we don't want it to get to Katie as she probably would have trouble. Hopefully it will continue to die down and just pretty much go away.

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    1. One of my agility friends who's a vet gave me the same advice... don't panic! It's smart to take precautions, but if dogs get sick -- just like kids -- you take them in for evaluation and treatment. We've heard a lot about the flu in the news here, so it's been on my mind.

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  2. It was very scary here in Chicago for months, especially at the county shelter. It seems to be over here now but people's pets died which is so sad. Good advice Rocco thanks! Love Dolly

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    1. I heard of more serious cases in Chicago than what I'm hearing in Atlanta, but we are hearing a lot about the flu here and there have been cases reported. Glad to hear it seems to be over in Chicago.

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  3. Great advice! We had a canine flu breakout in NYC last year so Kobi got vaccinated. He didn't have any issues with the vaccine and luckily didn't get the canine flu either. At the time, we also did a post about it: http://dogsized.com/canine-flu/

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    1. Just went to read your post... great info! We're hearing that most cases are very treatable, which is good news. We're being careful to take extra precautions... a good thing to do all the time!

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  4. Great advice, and this was so very interesting. Thanks.

    sumskersandearlskers13.blogspot.com

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  5. I'm hoping it stays out of California.

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  6. Great information! Luckily this hasn't hit our area, and hopefully it won't be around for long anywhere.

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    1. I hope it leaves Atlanta soon and goes away altogether! From what I hear, it's cleared up in the Chicago area.

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  7. I haven't heard of any cases here although there was a distemper bout just over the border. Mr. N does run into a fair amount of dogs though so he would probably be at high risk.

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    1. Even though Rocco doesn't go to daycare or dog parks, he does run into a fair amount of dogs too. It's kind of hard to do agility without being around other dogs, but we are taking precautions in only being around pups we know as much as possible.

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  8. I also believe in prevention and not panicking ~ the latter doesn't help anyone, it only makes things worse. I haven't heard of any cases of the dog influenza in our current state of NC.

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    1. Good, hopefully it will stay away from your neck of the woods. We have a heightened awareness here since cases have been reported, and I think that's a good thing.

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  9. You covered this beautifully, luckily civ has died down here in hte MW. Can never be to safe, my dogs are vaccinated.

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    1. That's good news. We're still seeing news of it in Atlanta.

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