What You Need to Know About Canine Influenza
The United States has been seeing more and more cases of Canine Influenza each year. According to Merck Animal Health's Dog Flu Map, Maryland has had recorded cases of both strains as of October 2017.
There are currently two known strains of Canine Influenza. H3N8, which was first found in Florida in 2004, is contagious from infected dogs for up to 5 days. H3N2, found in China and Korea in 2006, is contagious intermittently for up to 24 days.
How Is Canine Influenza Transmitted?
Canine influenza is mostly airborne and spreads just like the human cold. The most common way for an infected dog to spread it is through coughing and sneezing. Dogs can also contract the flu from direct contact with other dogs (sniffing or licking). Dogs can also spread the flu by contaminating surfaces, for example, sharing water bowls and toys. If a human were to come into contact with a contagious dog, the infection can be spread to other dogs from their hands or clothes.
What Clinical Signs Do Dogs Show with Canine Influenza?
The most common signs of the K9 Flu are:
- Coughing and sneezing
- Eye and nasal discharge
- Decrease in appetite
What Should I Do If My Dog Shows Signs, and What Can I Do to Prevent My Dog from Getting Canine Influenza?
If your dog shows one or more signs of canine influenza, Dr. Handel recommends making an appointment for them to be examined. The most effective way to avoid the K9 flu is by getting the vaccination. Here at Kentlands Vet, we offer a combination vaccine that vaccinates your dog for both strains known to the US.
Who Should Be Vaccinated?
Dogs that are social with other dogs should be vaccinated for canine influenza. A dog is considered social if it goes to dog parks, boarding facilities, training classes, gets groomed frequently, or participates in any other activity that involves coming into contact with other dogs. The initial canine influenza vaccine is a two-part series. After the first shot, your dog will need to come back two to four weeks later for the booster shot. After the booster shot is given, your dog will be vaccinated against the K9 flu for a full year. All further flu vaccines will be given annually.