Canine Flu is again in the news with a recent article in the New York Times and recent approval of a second Canine Flu vaccine against the Asian version of the virus.
Canine Flu is caused by the influenza virus and is spread easily through airborne droplets, licking, coughing. During an outbreak, spread is likely to be very fast with most exposed individuals becoming sick. Much like the Human Flu, Dog Flu is expected to make many sick, with only a few being very ill and an even smaller number dying. Also, like the Human Flu, there are different versions of the flu vaccine with different efficacy depending on the version that is spreading. Sadly, there is not yet a Dog Flu shot that contains both versions of the virus.
Kennel Cough is different from Canine Flu. Kennel Cough is generally milder with a harsh, lasting cough but no fever, lack of appetite and lethargy while Dog Flu is more likely to come with a fever, lethargy and lack of appetite along with the upper respiratory symptoms.
Current information shows two primary flu epidemic areas. The initial version of the flu has been found in Florida and New York City for years with periodic outbreaks. The new version of the flu, introduced from Asia, had a large epidemic area in Chicago that spread into other parts of the Midwest and has popped up in different locales since last spring.
Luckily, there have been no local epidemics. Please watch this website or our Facebook page for more information during a local outbreak.
Currently we are not routinely vaccinating against the Flu virus. Because there are 2 versions of the illness and vaccine, your dog's exposure is not predictable. If you are traveling with your dog to known outbreak areas, first we can vaccine based on the information on that viral version and second, are you sure you want to take your dog?
Finally, during an outbreak the best prevention is DO NOT allow your dog to come in direct contact with any dog, even one that seems healthy, and watch out for indirect contact like licking an outdoor water source that other dogs may be drinking from or not washing your hands after touching unknown dogs.
Staying away from areas that dogs naturally group together like the dog park, training class, groomers, boarding facilities and even the veterinarian's office will cut down on chances of exposure.