It's important to know that Canine Influenza (a.k.a. the "Dog Flu") is a real thing. However, it's different from the one that sweeps through your family, keeping you and the kiddos miserable in bed for days.
THOUGH THERE ARE SOME SIMILARITIES IN SYMPTOMS, THERE IS NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE THAT DOGS CAN CATCH THE FLU FROM HUMANS, OR VICE VERSA.
Canine influenza virus (CIV) is most commonly spread in "high-traffic" dog areas, like boarding kennels, doggie daycares, dog parks, and animal shelters. Some local facilities require dogs to be vaccinated for CIV, but even if it's not mandatory, it's still a good idea to strongly consider the extra protection of immunization.
4 Things You Should Know About Canine Influenza
1. There is a vaccine available.
There are two different strains of CIV: H3N8 (identified in 2004) and H3N2 (identified in 2015). Previously, only an H3N8 vaccine was available. Thankfully, we now offer a combination vaccine that provides protection against both H3N8 and H3N2.
The canine influenza vaccine is given as an initial series of two injections 4 weeks apart; then an annual booster is given once a year to maintain protection.
2. Canine Influenza is highly contagious.
The virus is spread through respiratory secretions (nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing), and can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
Be sure to thoroughly wash bowls, toys, and your hands! Though you cannot get your dog's flu, you can pass the virus along to other dogs after handling an infected dog.
3. Canine Influenza is a year-round problem.
Unlike the human flu, there is no "dog flu season" to worry about. Instead, the virus tends to spark up with isolated outbreaks throughout the year. Unfortunately, these outbreaks often occur in kennels and shelters. When dogs exposed to the virus leave the facility, they can spread the infection elsewhere.
4. If your dog is showing signs of an upper respiratory illness, schedule a visit with the vet.
There is no cure for the canine influenza virus, but your dog may need supportive care to combat dehydration and secondary bacterial infections.
Vaccine reactions are uncommon, but can be very serious, and in some cases, life-threatening. Know what's normal, and when to be concerned about your pet following a vaccination. Of course, if you're ever concerned about your pet's health, we encourage you to call us! Better to be safe than sorry. :)