Family Features) People who have suffered from the flu know how exhausting the fever, chills and upset stomach can be. Your dog may be at risk for the same symptoms. One type of canine influenza virus – CIV H3N8 – has been around for years, and a new type (CIV H3N2) was identified in Chicago in March 2015. Since then, the virus has spread to more than 25 states, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Health Diagnostic Center.
CIV H3N2 is spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs and from contact with contaminated objects, such as toys, clothing, water bowls, etc.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs frequently in contact with other dogs are at high risk of infection. This includes dogs that are boarded, enrolled in day care and visit groomers or dog parks.
“I take my dogs to dog parks and because they’re social, I’m concerned they’ll catch the virus and it will spread in those areas,” said Kelsey Risher, a Chicago-area owner of two active dogs.
In the initial phase of infection, the dog appears healthy, but can spread the virus to other dogs. Symptoms include: coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever and discharge from the eyes and nose.
Most dogs recover in two to three weeks. However, because CIV H3N2 can be difficult to diagnose and in severe instances may be fatal, effective prevention is critical.
In November 2015, Zoetis, the world’s largest animal health company, was the first to be granted a conditional license for a vaccine for CIV H3N2.
“I’ll be telling clients I recommend the vaccination,” said Dr. Scott Rovner, a Chicago veterinarian. “I’ll be vaccinating my own two dogs who go to day care. I think it’s going to be a great product to help slow down and lessen the clinical signs that we see with our patients.”
Preventive measures to help protect your dog include:
Washing toys, bowls and bedding regularly.
After contact with other dogs, wash your hands thoroughly before handling your own pet.
Consulting with your veterinarian regarding the appropriate vaccination protocol for your dog.
By following these simple measures and consulting your veterinarian, this flu season can be easier for your canine companions.
Visit DogFluFacts.com for more information about preventing canine influenza.