Many of you remember last year’s canine influenza outbreak that occurred in the Chicago area. Many of you, along with us, felt helpless with the fact that there was nothing anyone could do to help protect our furry family members. Anyone remember that? Well…awesome news! There is now a flu vaccine available! And even better news? We have it available at Snake River Vet Center! Before you hurry down to get your doggie their flu vaccine, here is some information to help you make a sound decision about whether to vaccinate or not.
There are 2 strains of the canine canine influenza viruses have been isolated: H3N2 and H3N8. The newest strain is the H3N2 and is of avian (bird) origin. The H3N8 strain is of equine (horse) origin and has been around longer. It is recommended that dogs be vaccinated against both viruses to be protected.
The canine influenza virus is spread by dogs being in close contact with each other and via aerosolization (which means it can be carried and spread through the air). All dogs that are exposed are at risk because they have not built up a natural immunity. The clinical signs include: coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, ocular (eye) discharge and fever. Some dogs get a mild case and can be treated at home, however; others may need or require hospitalization and supportive care. The scariest part? Dogs that are newly infected and actively shedding the virus (meaning they are contagious) will not show any signs of being sick at first. Clinical signs often arise days after they have already been sharing the virus with everyone else. This makes the virus super sneaky!
Dogs that are at high risk include those participating in social activities with other groups of dogs. This may include: doggie day care, boarding facilities, training facilities, dog shows or trials, dog parks, shelters, kennels, and grooming facilities.
Protecting your pet is as simple as vaccinating them. The initial series includes two vaccines, one for each virus (H3N2 and H3N8), and a booster of each vaccine around 3 weeks. The vaccine will boost natural immunity against these viruses, and will then need to be boosted thereafter on a yearly basis. Dogs vaccinated against canine influenza are not protected until they have had the first follow up booster (at 3 weeks) of both vaccines.
We no longer have to sit by and helplessly wait for an outbreak to occur before we take action. You can start protecting your precious pups now before this sneaky virus strikes! We recommend vaccinating all dogs but especially those that are at high risk. We know how important your furry family members are to you and we want to be able to offer all we can to help ensure your pet’s safety. Currently, we have these vaccines available in a package that includes all four vaccines! If you are interested in vaccinating your dog or have any questions, please call us at (208) 452-7950.
Jennifer Janitell DVM