In 2015 the Dog Flu became an epidemic. Spreading across continental North America like a wild fire. Now we all realize that the media will blow things out of proportion if it means it will increase viewers or readership. But how concerned do you need to be about the Canine Flu and your dog? Should you vaccinate? How is it spread? Is it still a threat?
Canine Flu (H3N2 and H3N8) is prevalent in the US. It is a highly contagious virus that is similar in symptoms to an upper respiratory infection. This is also contagious to cats. H3N8 was first detected in 2004 and was a strain that evolved from an equine flu and in Florida. H3N2 was first detected in March 2015 after dogs were rescued from North Korea and brought to the Chicago area.
Both viruses have had their chances to spread causing an "epidemic", meaning 10 or more cases in one area, in multiple areas in multiple states such as Indiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana.
Symptoms of Canine Flu are similar to that of an upper respiratory infection and when caught and treated early have a very good prognosis.
"H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a subclinical infection and shed the virus.(AVMA)"
The virus can remain on surfaces for 24 hours. So ensuring proper disinfection procedures at your dogs daycare, training center, and in your home are very important.
Staying away from public dog parks that are not monitoring dogs vaccinations and health prior to entering are also excellent ways to avoid contamination.
While a Canine Influenza vaccination is available it is considerably expensive averaging 100.00 or more per injection and it is a multiseries injection. Similar to the human flu shot the canine flu shot has not been noted to have much efficacy in dogs it was administered to.
Many victims of the Canine Flu were older dogs, ill dogs ,or puppies, with compromised immune systems that allowed them to be over taken by the virus. With relatively few victims the canine flu is not really something you need to be concerned about.
But ensuring your dog is checked regularly so you notice changes in behavior and if an illness occurs are huge and your first step toward making sure your pet stays healthy.
Sources for information:
Dogs Naturally Magazine
Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Behavior Consultant, Mother of an Amazing Autistic Child, and to several Wonderful Dogs, Horses, and a Cat named Einstein.