Did you know that dogs can come down with the flu virus just like humans? Dogs cannot catch the human version of the virus, but there are currently two identified canine influenza strains known as H3N8 and H3N2, and both strains have been identified in dogs in our area. The H3N8 strain has been around for several years but H3N2, an Asian strain of the virus, is brand new in the United States which means dogs here have not been exposed to it before and have no immunity.
When infected with the flu, dogs experience fever, coughing, discharge from the nose or eyes, loss of appetite, and lethargy or lack of energy. In sick, old and debilitated dogs, influenza can lead to secondary infections and even death.
A dog may have the H3N2 canine influenza virus for up to 24 days, which means the dog is contagious and spreading the disease that entire time. As a result, the virus can spread quickly among social dogs in inner cities, doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, sporting and show events, and any other location where dogs commingle. Both strains spread easily by direct contact with infected dogs (sniffing, licking, nuzzling), through the air (coughing, barking, or sneezing), and by contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls and clothing.
To help prevent the spread of canine influenza, please consider vaccinating your dog against the virus immediately. At Las Tablas Animal Hospital, we carry the Bivalent Canine Flu Vaccine, which will protect your pet against both strains. If your dog receives the Bordetella “kennel cough” vaccine, we recommend vaccinating your dog against the canine influenza virus as well, since both diseases are commonly found in the same environments.