What is Canine Influenza?
Canine Influenza is caused by the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. Currently, two strains of CIV have been identified in the United States - H3N8 virus and H3N2 virus.
What are the signs?
Mild form - Dogs suffering from the mild form of CIV develop a soft, moist cough that can persist for 10-30 days. They may also be lethargic, febrile, and have a decreased appetite. Sneezing and eye and nasal discharge may also occur.
Severe form -Dogs with the severe form develop a high fever and show signs of pneumonia. These signs include increased respiratory rates and effort. Fatal cases of pneumonia caused by infection of Influenza have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is less that 10%. Most dogs recover in 2-3 weeks.
How is CIV spread?
Canine Influenza spreads easily between dogs. The virus is shed in nasal secretions during the 2-4 day incubation period. During this period, dogs do not show signs of illness, so they are contagious before showing signs that they are sick.
Should I vaccinate my dog?
The Canine Influenza Virus vaccine is a "lifestyle" vaccination. It is recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs - such as boarding, dog daycare, grooming, dog parks, and dog shows.
As with human flu shots, a vaccine for one strain does not prevent infection with another strain. The vaccine does not protect completely against or eliminate the virus. It reduces how ill your dog can become as well as lessening your dog's ability to transmit the virus to other dogs.
We recommend the bivalent vaccine if your dog is at risk. This vaccine protects against both strains seen in dogs (H3N8 and H3N2.) It is given as a series of two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart and then boostered annually. Ideally, the series should conclude at least two weeks prior to boarding, daycare, etc.
To decide whether or not your dog should be vaccinated for Canine Influenza, please talk to your veterinarian about your dog's risk of exposure.