Summer is almost upon us and people are traveling with their pets across the country. You may be taking your dog to a high risk city, or a dog from a high risk city may be here in San Diego as you are reading this having fun at the beach, your local dog park, or even spending some time at camp! To date, there has still only been one proven case of either Canine Flu strains diagnosed in San Diego, but keep in mind most people decline the expensive upper respiratory lab test when their dog is at the vet with canine cough symptoms. As a veterinarian it is my job to keep you updated and to make recommendations based on facts, anecdotal evidence and sometimes, speculation.
Canine Influenza Virus (H3N8) first appeared in the US in 2004 and it remains active today. The H3N2 strain is the “new” strain that first made headlines last year with the Chicago outbreak and pockets of infection around the nation. Both strains have been seen in California and the new strain as close to San Diego and Riverside as Orange County. Early April 2017 there was an isolated outbreak in Los Angeles County. At this point it remains my professional opinion that the CIV vaccine be recommended for ALL dogs that visit dog daycares, boarding facilities, grooming salons, pet stores and play at dog parks/beaches with other dogs etc.. Dog daycare/boarding and grooming dogs being the most important groups to vaccinate. Once an outbreak begins, vaccination may serve little purpose, so it makes the greatest sense to be proactive, and stay ahead of this virus.
Since CIV is relatively new on the scene, and is quite potent, the majority of dogs exposed WILL get sick. All it would take is one dog at daycare or the park to cause a mass outbreak. Although most of these dogs will not experience severe symptoms (and very few fatalities will occur) the illness will keep them away from daycare/boarding/grooming/outside play with other dogs for 3+ weeks. This could cause quite an inconvenience to a pet owner, not to mention the effects of the virus on your dog and the cost of diagnosis and treatment.
The virus spreads VERY rapidly and begins shedding prior to any signs of illness making prevention practically impossible.
The vaccine has proven to be quite effective in controlling the spread of CIV, sometimes preventing the disease completely, but mostly decreasing the disease severity to mild and easily manageable symptoms. Much like the human flu vaccine, it may not completely prevent CIV but it will make CIV much less likely. Most importantly for daycares and boarding and grooming facilities though is that the vaccine dramatically decreases the shedding of the virus and subsequently the massive spread of the disease.
Paws 4 Shots and more has chosen to recommend and carry both strains of the CIV vaccination. Two doses administered 3-4 weeks apart will offer one year of protection. A new “bivalent” vaccine is now available allowing us to vaccinate against both strains of the CIV simultaneously.
It would obviously be prudent to keep any dog with even the mildest of coughs home from daycare/boarding or grooming, just as you would keep your kids home from school in the same situation, i.e. to do your best to avoid infecting others! Contact your veterinarian if symptoms worsen or you are worried at any time. Typically, it is recommended that dogs diagnosed with kennel cough remain isolated for 10 days but remember, if CIV is suspected or diagnosed, that period is increased to 21 days.
If your dog does become sick with upper respiratory symptoms a test can be performed by your veterinarian to determine if it is CIV or canine cough (bordetella, parainfluenza, etc.).
If you have any questions about CIV or the vaccines, please contact you veterinarian or feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte Frank, DVM
Paws 4 Shots and more