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Canine Influenza (H3N8) Virus Infection

Canine Influenza, or Canine Flu, is a true flu virus (subtype N3N8) that causes respiratory infection in dogs.  It is believed that this virus jumped species, originating in horses and becoming a disease-causing organism in dogs.  We have been monitoring for this disease in Oregon for several years.  We have just been informed that there were two confirmed cases of canine influenza/flu at a humane society shelter in the Salem, Oregon area.  We want to inform you about this recent development and let you know that there is a vaccine available to protect your canine companions.

How does your dog get exposed to Canine Flu?

Canine Flu is an airborne disease, much like kennel cough disease.  The flu virus can travel in droplets from a cough or sneeze and can be transmitted by contact with contaminated objects, such as a chew toy, a communal bathtub, even clothing.  There are certain situations that will increase your dog's risk of contacting this disease:  These situations or activities include boarding, attending doggie day care, going to a dog park, going to a grooming facility, or attending a dog show.  Humans, horses, and cats cannot catch the canine flu.

What are the symptoms of Canine Flu?

The symptoms of the canine flu are similar to kennel cough.  Coughing and sneezing are the most common symptoms.  Most dogs infected with this virus will experience a persistent cough that may last as long as three weeks and may experience a yellow/green nasal discharge.  While most dogs will be sickened with a mild form of the disease, there are some dogs that may experience a more serious form of canine flu.  These dogs often have their disease complicated by a lung infection or pneumonia.  If left untreated, the severe form of the disease can be fatal.

How can you prevent this infection in your dog?

There is a vaccine available.  We do offer this vaccine at Grove Veterinary Clinic.  Initially, this vaccine requires two shots, given 2 to 4 weeks apart.  After the initial series, the vaccine is given annually.  It is best to discuss your companion's specific risk factors (travel, boarding, day care, etc.) with our veterinarians to determine whether vaccination against canine flu is appropriate.  The Bordetella, or kennel cough, vaccine does not protect your dog against canine influenza.  Additionally, the Parainfluenza vaccine (this is one of the "Ps" in DHPP vaccine) does not protect your dog against canine influenza.


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