Flu Season is Coming Up: For You and Your Pets!

Written By: Dr. Chris Lehman, Owner PetMart Pharmacy, LLC / Veterinarian

What is Canine Influenza?
The “Dog Flu,” or canine influenza, is a respiratory disease in dogs. This high contagious disease is caused by two specific influenza viruses known to infect dogs. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. However, flu viruses are constantly changing and it is possible for a virus to change so that it could infect humans and spread easily between humans.

How is it Spread?
Just like human flu, dog flu is spread through close contact in highly populated areas. Symptoms of dog flu include coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy, and lack of appetite. Your dog might exhibit obvious symptoms for up to 10 days, but that doesn’t mean they are not contagious. Additionally, H3N2 CIV is spread by direct contact with a sick dog or cat or by contact with an environment/with people that are contaminated with the virus. Coughing dogs produce “mists” that can travel up to 20 feet in the air! This rapidly spreads the viruses over greater distances. Some dogs have more serious disease and pneumonia that requires hospital care. H3N2 CIV can cause respiratory infections in cats too. The cats start sneezing and have nasal discharge but usually do not cough. H3N2 CIV is spread by direct contact with a sick dog and by contact with an environment or people that are contaminated with the virus. 

What is the good news? 

A canine flu also shot exists! The two-shot vaccination doesn’t necessarily deflect the virus in its entirety, but may reduce its length and severity. The vaccine is then administered three weeks apart with a booster shot needed every year for full protection.

Veterinarians do recommend that dog owners get their dogs vaccinated for the flu, especially if they frequent dog parks, groomers, day cares, kennels, or any other environment where they are exposed to other dogs. Socially active dogs have a greater risk of infection.

For more information, please visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website here:https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Control-of-Canine-Influenza-in-Dogs.aspx