What to do about the dog flu

Are you a snowbird traveling to warmer climates for the winter?  Going on a hot vacation?  If you are planning on traveling with your pet, here are some things you should know about Canine Influenza.

Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is caused by canine influenza virus (CIV) Type A.  Canine influenza is NOT a virus associated with the commonly known “kennel cough” complex. There are 2 known strains of canine influenza in North America:  H3N2 and H3N8.

  • Both strains of canine influenza are spread from dog to dog the same way as the common cold in humans: 

1) Direct contact – sniffing, licking, or nuzzling an infected dog

2) The air – breathing in particles from another dog’s cough or sneeze

3) Contaminated surfaces – sharing water/food bowls or toys – the virus stays contagious for up to 48 hours on surfaces

4) Contaminated people – the virus stays contagious for up to 12 hours on skin/hands and up to 24 hours on clothes

  • Canine influenza does NOT infect humans
  • It is not seasonal, meaning that dogs can contract the virus at any time of year

Symptoms of canine influenza include:  cough lasting 10-21 days, sneezing, discharge from the eyes and/or nose, decreased appetite, lethargy, fever.

Vaccination is an effective way to help prevent canine influenza. Dogs are vaccinated initially and then get a booster 2 to 4 weeks later. Annual revaccination is required for continuous protection.

Vaccination is recommended if your dog:

  • Lives in or near an area where canine influenza has been reported, or will be traveling to such an area
  • Attends a boarding kennel, dog class, or doggy daycare
  • Attends shows or competitions
  • Visits groomers, dog parks, or engages with other dogs regularly
  • Is elderly
  • Has a heart or respiratory disease
  • Is a bulldog, pug, or any other short-faced breed

The good news is that canine influenza has not been reported in Saskatchewan as of now. However, travelling with pets and importation of dogs is becoming more common, which can bring influenza to our province.

Before traveling with your dog, check to see if canine influenza has been reported in that area.  If the answer is yes, make sure your dog is vaccinated against BOTH strains of canine influenzaA combination vaccination is available at our clinic for at-risk dogs.  Remember to plan ahead, as if your dog has never had the influenza vaccine before, they will need the booster 2-4 weeks later before they are fully protected.

For more information call us at 306-244-1010 or visit dogflu.com