Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that typically causes mild or moderate symptoms but can cause more serious health effects in some dogs. There are two strains commonly seen in the United States – CIV H3N8 and CIV H3N2. Common symptoms include coughing and retching, sneezing, lethargy and decreased appetite. In more severe cases canine influenza can lead to more serious illness like pneumonia, but is much rarer, especially in younger and healthier dogs.
Much in the same way as the common cold is spread amongst humans, canine influenza can be transmitted by direct contact, contaminated surfaces and through the air. While no human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported, humans carrying the virus on hands or clothing can pass it on to their pets. Dogs that spend a lot of time socializing with other dogs are some of the most prone to developing canine influenza, as well as those who have been boarded or spent time at doggie day cares, or even those who have recently been groomed or been to the pet store.
If you are concerned about the potential of your dog contracting canine influenza, limiting the contact they have with other dogs and ensuring the surfaces they come into contact with are clean and sanitized can mitigate much of the risk. Vaccines for both types of canine influenza are available, and your veterinarian can help assess your individual pet’s risk and whether you should consider vaccination.
Some pet boarding facilities or doggie daycares may require your dog to be vaccinated, but others leave it to the discretion of the owner in conjunction with the advising of their veterinarian. While pet care facility owners want to limit the spread of canine influenza as much as possible, whether a vaccine is appropriate or not for your individual animal is best addressed by your pet’s veterinarian.
One of the best ways to prevent canine influenza is to stay informed and talk to your veterinarian about preventative measures like vaccination, disinfecting and isolation. Monitor your dog for coughing or other signs of respiratory distress and contact your veterinarian immediately if symptoms persist.
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