Canine influenza (dog flu) is a contagious viral infection affecting dogs and some cats. There are two main strains seen in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2. Canine H3N8 was first identified in 2004 in racing greyhounds in Florida. Since 2004, H3N8 has been identified in most states. The H3N2 strain was first identified in March of 2015 following an outbreak of respiratory illnesses in dogs around Chicago. In May 2017, canine H3N2 influenza was diagnosed in dogs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois. This was the same strain of H3N2 involved in the 2015 outbreak in Chicago.
Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols with respiratory secretions from coughing, barking, and sneezing. Dogs that are in close contact with infected dogs are at an increased risk in places like kennels, groomers, daycare facilities, or shelters. It can also be spread indirectly through objects like toys, kennels, bowls, leashes, etc. It’s important to thoroughly clean and disinfect objects that have come in contact with infected dogs. The virus can survive on a surface for up to 48 hours, on clothes for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
Dogs will typically start to show signs of infection between 2 to 8 days after exposure. Virtually all dogs exposed to canine influenza will become infected but only about 80% will develop clinical symptoms. The symptoms look similar to kennel cough, with nasal and eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and anorexia. Many dogs will also develop a fever.
The vaccine we offer here at PBVC is bivalent, meaning it offers protection against both strains. There are currently no canine influenza vaccines approved for use in cats.
The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine meaning it is not necessarily recommended for every dog. It is used to protect those who are most at risk of exposure (dogs who are social or frequent kennels or groomers). The vaccine must be boostered 2 to 4 weeks after the first vaccination and is then effective for 1 year.
Think your dog may be a good candidate for the Canine Influenza vaccine? Call us! We can schedule it.