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Canine Flu

Canine Flu

 

 Canine Flu is a respiratory viral disease found in dogs that causes mild symptoms in 50-80% of those infected and severe signs, even death, in less than 1%. It is highly contagious and is spread in the same manner as other flu viruses via aerosol droplets and direct contact. As there is no natural immunity, all dogs exposed will get the virus, but 20% will show no signs. Humans cannot be infected by it. 

 Canine Flu was first diagnosed in racing Greyhounds in Florida in 2004 after several deaths were investigated. It subsequently appeared on greyhound tracks up the East coast. It was found later in retrospective blood testing to have first appeared in the late 90’s. Since 2004, it has spread across the USA and is seen mostly where dogs are kept in close contact, especially in kennels.

 In the 50-80% affected, symptoms are of a moist (rarely dry) cough and there may be a nasal discharge. Dogs are normally alert and happy. Symptoms may occur for 10 days, but can last up to 4 weeks. Rarely there will be a fever and signs will be more severe with possible difficulty in breathing. These cases warrant treatment and may even need hospitalization if the signs are severe enough.

 A vaccination is available and is similar to the human flu vaccine in that it does not prevent dogs from getting the virus, but reduces the severity of symptoms if it is contracted. It has also been found to reduce the length of infection. The vaccine is given twice at a 2 to 4 week interval for maximum protection. It is recommended for all dogs coming in contact with other dogs, i.e. kennels, grooming, dog parks, dog shows, etc.