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Canine Influenza Information

Caring Animal Hospital

Dr. Bethany Steele & Dr. Hailee Cotter

(517) 694-6766

Canine Influenza Information

Caring Animal Hospital now recommends Canine Influenza Vaccine to all dogs at risk for exposure.  This includes dogs that board, are groomed, attend day care, go to dog parks, show their dogs, go to classes, or go to pet stores.  Some facilities in the area are requiring Canine Influenza vaccines for the dogs that attend.  We carry the Canine Influenza Vaccine and are giving it to dogs now.  Below is information pet owners need to know about the vaccine.

Many of you may be aware that veterinarians, animal care facilities, dog owners, and dogs in other parts of the country have been dealing with the emergent disease Canine Influenza.  The term “emergent” in medicine means a new disease in which a population hasn’t been exposed to before. 

Unlike people who are exposed to human flu at very young ages and develop some immunity slowly as they age, canine populations have never been exposed to a type of flu that they are susceptible to.  This means that 80% of dogs that are exposed to the Canine Influenza virus(es) will get sick and the other 20% will shed the virus but not present with clinical signs of illness.  For most dogs, the clinical signs of canine flu are similar to other upper respiratory disease complexes.  They develop fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and eye discharge.  The dog’s immune system then kicks in thus fighting the virus and producing immunity to fight the disease and to protect against future exposure.  Ten percent of dogs develop much more serious symptoms that require hospitalization.  In this subset of dog’s clinical signs can include pneumonia and even death.  Depending on the strain of canine influenza virus your dog has been exposed, symptoms can last for 14-30 days, and they also shed the virus for 14-30 days infecting other dogs even if they don’t show clinical signs themselves.

When we think of influenza in people we think of it occurring in the winter months when we are closed up together indoors.  This is not the case in dogs.  Influenza occurs in the spring, summer, and fall months when dogs are most likely to be exposed to one another through boarding, grooming, dog parks, and daycares.  But all dogs are at risk of exposure.

This year (2018), in Michigan, the first Canine Influenza case was reported July 13th.  As of August 3th, 2018, 70 cases of Canine Influenza were reported on the Department of Agriculture website, but one of the doctors at Caring Animal Hospital also works in Kent County (Grand Rapids, MI) at an emergency clinic and noted they had 6 confirmed cases of Canine Influenza the weekend of August 4th.  As of August 3rd no cases of Canine Influenza have been reported in Ingham county or the surrounding counties.  We do not know how long it will take for the disease to get to us.  It could be 1 week or 1 year.

There are 2 strains of Canine Influenza, H3N8 & H3N2; therefore, dogs need to get the one vaccine that helps their body develop immunity against both strains.  Remember no vaccine is 100% effective and vaccines are most effective if most individuals in a population are vaccinated.  This vaccine is given in 2 doses.  Immunity from the first dose develops in the first 3-6 weeks and the booster given 3-4 weeks later lasts for 1 year.  A booster Canine Influenza vaccine then needs to be given yearly.

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