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From H3N8 to H3N2, what you should know to Protect your pooch from Canine Influenza.

What is Canine Influenza? Influenza, or the “flu”, is caused by viruses. There are two main viruses that we currently see in dogs which are the H3N8 and H3N2 strands. Dogs can also occasionally be infected with human influenza viruses. The H3N2 strand has been of most concern recently.

What is an outbreak and why should we be concerned? An outbreak happens when a large amount of patients become sick in a particular area with a current or new disease. When multiple dogs in the Chicago area last spring developed respiratory signs, a new strand of canine influenza (H3N2) virus was identified. Since then it has spread across the states.

Why should I be concerned? Canine Influenza is highly contagious and is spread rapidly among dogs. Your pet can become sick and develop secondary bacterial pneumonia. Death has also been reported in several cases.

Is my dog at risk? If your dog visits places such as the dog park, day care, grooming facilities, boarding, training classes and other doggy gatherings he or she is at an elevated risk. Additionally, your pet may be at a higher risk if you plan on traveling with him.

What are signs of infection? The clinical signs cover a broad range from no change in your pet, mild fever and lethargy, to severe life threatening pneumonia. Canine Influenza is not distinguishable from other infections such as Bordetella, which is commonly known as “Kennel Cough”.

How is it Diagnosed? A mucous sample is taken from the nasal passages and submitted to a laboratory to identify the virus.

How is it treated? Your veterinarian and you will decide on what type of intervention your pet needs. Mild forms require cough suppressants and rest. Antibiotic therapy is reserved for the more severe form.

Can other animals or people become infected with the strain? There is currently no evidence that people can become infected. There has been limited evidence that the related Asian strand can infect cats; currently, it is unknown in the United States.

What can I do to protect my dog? Prevent canine influenza from the start! There is new vaccine which has been developed to protect dogs specifically against this new strand (H3N2). This vaccine may be protective against the old strain (H3N8) as well.  Please contact Lakemont Veterinary Clinic if you feel your dog is at risk.

What is the vaccination protocol? Any healthy dog older than 8 weeks of age of any size or breed are eligible to receive the vaccine. It is initially administered in 2 doses, 3 weeks apart. An annual, single dose booster, is recommended.

You can visit DogFluFacts.com for more information or talk to Lakemont Veterinary Clinic Staff.

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