Canine Influenza… an update from Dr. Benoit

As the human flu season thankfully fades into our rear view mirror, I thought I would write a quick note on Canine Influenza, or Dog Flu. The Dog Flu is relatively new to the US, and there are two common strains seen H3N2 which is a variant of avian flu from Hong Kong, and H3N8 which has equine origin.

Dog flu has been isolated in nearly every state, see our Dog Flu Outbreak Map. The majority of dogs in the country are naïve to the viruses, so virtually all dogs exposed will become infected.
Dogs who are infected with the flu will present with fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, decreased appetite and lethargy. Though the disease is very rarely fatal, mortality rate between 1%-8% have been reported in puppies and elderly populations of dogs. 

Dog Flu is spread through direct contact, through coughing and sneezing, and can be transferred through things such as clothing.
There are very effective vaccines available for the Dog Flu. At SouthCare we now offer the bivalent flu vaccine [which covers both strains of the flu].  Two vaccines spaced 2-3 weeks apart are required for good protection, and the pet is adequately protected about 7 days after the final vaccine.

Dog Flu has not yet made it’s way to Spokane, but recent outbreaks have been reported in Idaho, Oregon, and California. As of January 22nd 2018, four dogs have tested positive from a kennel in Kent, WA – these pets were not vaccinated for the Dog Flu. We want dog owners to be prepared, as if and when it does arrive, it is expected to travel through the at risk population rather quickly.
Not every dog is at high risk. Click here to see a life style based calculator to help you determine if your pet is at risk.

Generally we feel that these dogs are at higher risk:
• Dogs who travel to dog shows, agility events, or hunting trials.
• Dogs who frequent dog parks
• Dogs who are boarded often or attend doggie daycare.

If you are unsure whether your pet is at risk, or wish to schedule vaccinations please contact us. 509-448-4480

It is not a core vaccination, such as rabies,  so you should not assume your dog has had the vaccine.
What dogs are at risk?
We recommend the vaccine for dogs who:
**Go to Dog Daycare
**Go to Dog Parks
**Go to Boarding Kennels, Dog Shows/Events and Grooming Facilities.
If you feel your dog is at risk or if you aren’t sure about your dog’s risk, feel free to call us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

If you’re concerned that your pet may be exhibiting any respiratory signs – coughing or sneezing, or if you think your pet may have been exposed to any type of respiratory infection – call us. If you are able, please call us prior to bringing your pet in the hospital, or when you arrive. When you arrive for your appointment we are happy to come out to your car. We prefer to have an exam room ready for you and your pet, to minimize possible exposure to other patients if warranted.