Canine Influenza and Your Dog
As the flu season bears down on us here in Southern California, we have had many inquiries regarding the possibility of spread of influenza between people and their dogs. The outbreak of influenza in people this year has been H3N2 serotype. This is also one of the serotypes that occur in dogs, however, the dog and human variants are different. According to the CDC website there has been no evidence of transmission of the canine variant to people. The human influenza virus has been found to infect a variety of animal species. It has even been found in a captive population of giant anteaters! A study out of Korea has found that dogs can contract the human influenza virus and spread it to other dogs but they do not show any signs of illness. The study does suggest that dogs could be seasonal hosts for human H3N2 influenza.
All of the authorities we have found do not suggest vaccinating your dog if your primary concern is prevention of spread from people to your dog. However, the concern for spread of canine influenza between dogs may be a good reason to have your dog vaccinated. Over the past few years there have been a number of small and large outbreaks of canine influenza around the country. As there have not been any large outbreaks locally, we have not routinely recommended the influenza vaccine for our canine patients. However, just this week, we were notified by Los Angeles County of an outbreak in San Jose, California that, so far, has affected over 120 dogs in a very rapid fashion. This served as a reminder that canine influenza can strike anywhere, any time.
The symptoms of canine influenza can include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, runny eyes, fever, lethargy and difficulty breathing. Other diseases ranging from kennel cough to distemper can also have these symptoms. Like the flu in people, most dogs will recover from canine influenza but some dogs have died, mostly due to secondary pneumonia.
So, should your furry friend be vaccinated for canine influenza? YES! If your dog has a lifestyle that puts him or her at increased risk. These would be dogs that regularly go places where they may come into contact with other dogs. If your dog regularly goes to a groomer, doggy day care, boarding facility, dog park or obedience or other training classes, we DO recommend this vaccine for your dog. This vaccine is still not considered a core vaccine that should be given to all dogs. This vaccine is initially given as a two immunizations 3 weeks apart. It is then boostered annually.
If you would like to have your dog vaccinated for canine influenza, or if you have any questions regarding canine influenza, please feel free to give us a call at 310-328-3733