Now there’s a vaccine for canine flu too!
Infectious disease experts are puzzling over the unpredictable way canine influenza virus (CIV) is spreading, but still feel it’s only a matter of time before it hits Ontario. With a new vaccine available for the disease, there’s sure to be debate over whether or not dogs need flu shots.
Until 2004, there were no known flu viruses that affected dogs. Canine influenza A was first reported in racing greyhounds in Florida, after mutating from a horse strain and it has since spread across the United States in an odd patchy manner. In some states there have been only a handful of cases and in others such as New York, thousands of dogs have become ill.
So, fears that dog flu would sweep across the continent have been largely unfounded, but the disease is common enough that a vaccine has been developed and was recently released in Canada.
The symptoms of CIV are very similar to those caused by respiratory flu viruses in people, however this strain only affects dogs. About five to seven days after being exposed to the virus, dogs may develop a moist, productive cough and nasal discharge. Other signs include poor appetite and mild fever, although in some animals – primarily those with weak immune systems, such as seniors or very young puppies – the disease can progress to severe pneumonia and death. There have also been a few severe cases in otherwise healthy animals.
Currently, there is no evidence we have dog flu in Quinte, so vaccination is not yet being actively promoted by most local veterinarians. However, if you plan to travel with your dog over the Christmas season, it’s wise to contact your vet clinic to find out what precautions are recommended for such issues as heartworm disease, lyme disease, flea and tick control and, now canine influenza.
More information is available online:
Dr. Fiona Gilchrist