Is Your Dog Protected From the Rapid Spread of Dog Flu?
There are presently two strains of canine influenza found in Texas: H3N2 and H3N8. First discovered in Florida in 2004, H3N8 previously only affected horses.
Originally an avian illness from Asia, it’s unknown how H3N2 initially spread throughout the Chicago area in March 2015. While both strains proliferate rapidly, only the H3N2 variety can also affect cats.
The good news is that with owner awareness, higher rates of vaccination, and other prevention tactics, we can all work together to contain the spread of dog flu.
Dog flu spreads quickly at dog parks, day cares, boarding facilities, and grooming salons.
All it takes for a dog to become sick is brief contact with an infected dog or surface area that has the virus on it. Because of this, most dog care facilities now require proof of vaccination against dog flu.
Part of the issue with dog flu is the way it is shed by it’s victims. For example, H3N8 is shed by infected dogs for a period of 5 days, while H3N2 can be shed on and off for over 3 weeks! That means that while the virus is being shed, the infected dog is contagious the entire time.
Clinical symptoms of dog flu include:
- Nasal and ocular discharge
- Loss of appetite
If left alone, dog flu can cause pneumonia and even tissue damage or necrosis.
Dog flu can be spread directly between dogs with close contact. However, dogs can become infected through the air (sneezing, coughing or barking) or contaminated surfaces like bowls, floors, and even clothing. The virus can live on surfaces for 24 hours, and hands for 12.
Any dogs exhibiting signs of respiratory illness should remain at home from parks or day cares in order to reduce the chances of infecting other dogs.
Call for Help
Please call us as soon as you notice that your dog isn’t feeling well. We may advise you to come in for them to be examined. Often, supportive care, including IV fluids or medication, can help reduce symptoms. Hospitalization is sometimes necessary for more serious cases is necessary.
Dog Flu Vaccination
Dogs that are considered high risk should receive the dog flu vaccination. If your dog routinely visits boarding facilities, groomers, day cares, parks, and other places where dogs can meet, they would benefit from added protection. Those with compromised immune systems are also good candidates for the vaccination.
The dog flu vaccination can help control infection of both strains and dogs as young as 7 weeks old can receive it. Requiring two doses, 2-4 weeks apart, the vaccine does not provide lifetime immunity; instead, annual vaccination may be necessary for a high-risk dog.
The dog flu vaccination can only help towards preventing the spread of the illness. Dogs can still get sick, but the symptoms and duration are typically not as severe or long.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!