New Outbreak Canine Influenza Outbreak
The summer of 2017 has seen a canine influenza outbreak in parts of the South, including Texas. Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by 2 known strains of an actual influenza virus that is specific to dogs.
Dog flu was first reported in 2003 in an outbreak of greyhounds. Since then it has spread throughout the U.S., but Texas had been largely spared. However, numerous cases of confirmed canine flu have been reported in various parts of Texas just since Memorial Day 2017 by the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab. And there have been recent reports of as many as 60 suspected cases in the Houston area.
What Dogs are at Risk?
Most unvaccinated dogs are susceptible to canine influenza. There is no certain breed, age, or sex that is more or less susceptible to dog flu. It is not contagious to humans.
There are certain activities that can increase your dog’s risk of infection. Basically, anytime your pet will travel to be potentially in contact with other dogs, there is risk. So, doggie day care or boarding facilities, training classes, dog parks, people parks, running trails, groomers, local pet stores are all potential sources of exposure. If your pet is only a back yard dog or purely a house dog, then exposure is unlikely. Otherwise, vaccination is wise.
Signs of canine influenza may include coughing or retching, sneezing, nasal discharge, appetite loss, listlessness or fever. It can progress to pneumonia and in some cases can be fatal. Infection can last from a few days to several weeks in the more severe cases.
As mentioned, there is a vaccine available that protects against both known strains of the canine influenza virus. It is recommended that initially, two doses of vaccines be given about 3 weeks apart.
Here at the Rannals Small Animal Hospital, we now require current vaccination for canine flu for our boarding dogs. And we recommend to our clients to err on the side of caution. If you are not sure if your pet might become exposed, prevention by vaccination is always a good idea. For questions, call us at 903-839-7235.