Canine Influenza Update

Canine influenza (Dog Flu) is an insidious illness that poses an emerging threat to all dogs.

Recent public attention regarding the confirmed outbreak of Canine Influenza Virus (“dog flu”) in New York City and Rockland County has led to many questions about the disease, its prevention, and the potential risk of this virus to our canine pets.

In an effort to help clarify the abundance of information now in circulation, and to better educate our community about this emerging infectious disease, we offer here some basic information to begin the discussion.  There are also several links to find further details given below, and you are always welcome to contact the office to discuss your questions and concerns in person with our veterinary staff.  914-777-0398.
Weepy-Dog-300x222Because of the significant health risks posed by CIV infection and its high level of contagiousness, we are now requiring vaccinating all dogs whose owners plan to board them or bring them for daycare or grooming, as well as those who frequent our local dog parks and runs.  The vaccine requires a series of two injections 2 to 4 weeks apart.  In an effort to lessen the financial burden of vaccinating for this new threat, we are also waiving the office visit charge for the first dose and second booster injections.
Click this link to watch a cute 5 minute video summary about CIV infection (presented by dog puppets!)
(Even dogs get the flu video.)
Dog LickCanine influenza (Dog Flu) is an insidious illness that poses an emerging threat to all dogs.
If your dog has signs of respiratory illness, please call us immediately for advice or to make an appointment for an examination to assess his or her condition.  914-777-0398.

Dog Flu is Easily Transmitted from Dog to Dog
Canine influenza virus (CIV) causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is often referred to as “dog flu.” CIV is a relatively new virus, so almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when they are newly exposed because they have not built up natural immunity.  Most dogs that develop CIV infection have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment at a veterinary hospital.

Canine influenza is very contagious, meaning that it is easily spread from dogs that are currently infected to healthy dogs.  CIV can pass from dog to dog through virus particles in the air (eg: through coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs (touching noses).  It can also be picked up if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (ie: food bowls, toys).  Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs.  For example, they may spread the virus if they touch an infected dog, or even touch a toy or doorknob that the dog has contacted, and then touch another dog before washing their hands.

Canine influenza is a relatively new disease, and most dogs are susceptible.
 *Signs of Canine Influenza Infection
Be alert for the following signs, which are common in dogs with canine influenza:
— Mild, low-grade fever (103°F)
— Lethargy (tiredness)
— Loss of appetite
— Cough, which may be dry or may bring up sputum
— Runny nose with clear secretions at first, but may later change to a thick and yellow or pink-tinged color

If your dog shows any of these signs, contact your veterinarian and avoid taking the dog anywhere that other dogs may be exposed (other than the veterinarian’s office, if so instructed) until it has made a full recovery.

 *Disease Course
Of those dogs exposed, the following statistics regarding the general course of illness have been reported:
— Between 80 to 90% will develop clinical signs of infection
— About 10 to 20% will become infected but will not show any signs; however, these dogs can still pass the virus to other dogs
— Most dogs will have a mild disease course
— Up to 20% of dogs may develop a more severe form, with a high fever (104-106°F) and pneumonia.  These dogs must usually be admitted to the veterinary hospital for treatment
— Up to 8% of dogs may die from complications of CIV infection

*Spread of CIV Infection
Just like human flu is among humans, canine influenza is highly contagious among dogs. In fact, unless a dog has already had the illness and recovered, virtually every dog exposed to the virus will become infected.  This is because the virus is relatively new (it was first reported in the US in 2003), and dogs have no natural immunity to it.

The first confirmed outbreak of CIV infection occurred in Florida at a Greyhound racing facility in 2003.  Since that time, the incidence of CIV infection has increased, and outbreaks have been reported in dog-racing facilities, shelters, kennels, veterinary offices, and pet stores. Based on recently compiled data, CIV infection has been documented in at least 38 states in the US. Keep in mind that these statistics are based on samples sent in voluntarily, and in no way reflect the scope of dogs affected in each state.

— Canine influenza is easily spread.
— Canine influenza has now been documented in a variety of breeds throughout the United States.

There is no specific treatment for canine influenza.

Dogs with suspected CIV infection should be isolated, and a veterinarian should be consulted to ensure that appropriate care is administered quickly.

 *Treatment of CIV Infection
If your dog has signs of canine influenza, keep him or her at home for the protection of other dogs, and contact the Hospital at 914-777-0398 regarding appropriate care and evaluation. If you are asked to bring your dog into the office, you may want to leave the dog in the car until you have notified us of your arrival. The staff may want to keep the dog isolated and not bring him or her in through the waiting room to avoid contact with other dogs. There is no need for alarm because this is a standard precaution to protect other dogs from contracting the virus.

There is no specific treatment for CIV infection. Therefore, prevention through effective vaccination is very important. Vaccinating your dog for CIV has been clinically proven to significantly reduce the severity of influenza and the length of time that a dog is sick. This vaccine is available at the Mamaroneck Veterinary Hospital.

For dogs that do contract canine influenza, the focus of treatment is to provide supportive care while the infection runs its course. Dogs with mild infection may not require any intervention. Some dogs develop a more serious course and may require hospitalization for administration of intravenous fluids, supplemental feeding, and other supportive measures. Dogs that develop pneumonia will require antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection.  If hospitalization is recommended for your pet, we will take the time to discuss any questions or concerns you have about treatment and follow-up care.

Whether initially treated in the hospital or at home, be sure we have a chance to answer all of your questions about taking care of your dog once he or she is recovering at home. Also, be sure to keep the dog at home for several weeks until he or she has made a full recovery, and try to avoid exposing other dogs.

The best treatment approach to canine influenza is effective prevention.
 *Prevention of CIV Infection
Diseases caused by viruses, such as canine influenza, are best prevented by effective vaccination. An effective and safe canine influenza vaccine is available at the Mamaroneck Veterinary Hospital.  Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 has been shown to control the spread of CIV infection and minimize its impact.  Just like human flu shots, this vaccine may not completely prevent canine influenza but will make it less likely.  And if a vaccinated dog does get the flu, the signs are likely to be milder. Please feel welcome to call and discuss if this vaccine is appropriate for your dog(s).

It is recommended that the canine influenza vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines that prevent respiratory infections in dogs (eg: distemper, parainfluenza virus, and canine cough).  Keeping up with the recommended schedule of vaccinations provides the best protection for your dog against respiratory infections.

If you board your dog at any kennel or daycare facility (including here at the Pet Resort), be sure that the facility is well-managed and clean, and has a plan for isolating dogs with signs of respiratory illness. In the event of an outbreak or exposure within the facility, unvaccinated dogs may need to be quarantined or isolated to prevent further spread or infection of other dogs in the community.

If your dog has had a recent respiratory infection, be sure to keep him or her at home for about 2 weeks to allow the dog to recover fully and to minimize the risk of spreading the infection to other dogs.  Be sure to clean and disinfect clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent transmission of infection to susceptible dogs.  In addition, routine cleaning of your dog’s food and water bowls and toys with soap and water can help prevent the spread of disease.

Links to recent articles about the local CIV outbreak:

Links for more information about Canine Influenza: