Canine influenza virus (CIV), or dog flu, has been the talk of the town among pet owners here in Louisville. In fact, the local CIV outbreak has been quite strange and rather aggressive – to the point that this new strain of dog flu is named after our city!
What is canine influenza and where did it come from? And, how can you protect your dog from this ever-changing risk to your pet’s health and well-being? The team at Shelden Veterinary Care can help you understand the risks posed by the recent outbreak.
What Is Canine Influenza?
Canine influenza was first diagnosed in 2004 in a group of greyhounds in Florida. At that time, the strain was isolated to H3N8, and a vaccine was quickly made available. The latest strain in canine flu is H3N2, which was discovered in the greater Chicago area in 2015. While many pets have been exposed to and/or vaccinated against the old strain, this new one spread quickly among unvaccinated dogs.
Like many respiratory illnesses, canine flu is highly contagious and can spread quickly between infected and unvaccinated animals. It also isn’t static to one area. When people and their pets begin traveling this spring and summer, there’s an increased level of risk as the number of infected dogs continues to grow.
Symptoms of the virus range from mild to serious. Dogs with compromised immunity, puppies, and senior pets are at an increased risk.
The following are signs that your pet may have contracted canine influenza:
- Nasal discharge
- Rapid breathing
- Shallow breathing
- Loss of appetite
The Louisville Strain of Dog Flu
Since last autumn, we have experienced a sharp spike in the number of cases of canine influenza and the increased severity of the symptoms. From this, we have determined that the current vaccine against H3N2 does not seem to be effective against this new resurgence in our area.
The current vaccines don’t defend against the Louisville strain, but people should still get their dogs vaccinated, as the vaccine will protect against the normal strain. Additionally, the vaccine manufacturers will pay for treatment on vaccinated dogs that become infected, even if they find the dog has this new strain.
We will continue to provide updates as we learn more.
Ways to Protect Your Pet From the Dog Flu
Education and prevention go a long way in protecting your best fur pal from contracting dog flu, as well as many other infectious diseases. There are good ways to minimize risk, and the team at Shelden Veterinary Care is here to help!
Consider the following tips:
- Avoid places where dogs congregate, like dog parks, kennels, and daycares.
- Wash your hands and change your clothes after interacting with dogs.
- Stay current on your pet’s vaccinations, including the canine influenza vaccine, which is mandatory for most pet-related facilities.
- Stay outside or in the car with your pet when waiting to see the veterinarian.
- Remain knowledgeable about areas where there’s been an outbreak, including travel destinations.
- If your dog shows symptoms, isolate them from other dogs and seek veterinary care.
Please call us with any additional questions about the canine influenza virus or if you want to schedule an appointment for a vaccination.