It’s that time of year when fevers, coughs and sniffles abound. Just like us humans, our furry loved ones can catch nasty viruses such as canine influenza. And just like us humans, such viruses are typically spread through contact with those who are already have the flu themselves. We understand your concerns about your dogs becoming exposed, and have taken extra precautions in trying to keep the shop free and clear of viruses.
I asked Doctor George Marmolejo, DVM, from Chabot Veterinary Clinic in Hayward if he wouldn’t mind sharing his knowledge about the flu, and he so kindly obliged. Here’s what he had to say:
The canine influenza virus or dog flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs. There are two syndromes recognized in dogs infected with the virus, a mild form and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia. The clinical signs of the canine flu is very similar to many other respiratory illnesses of dogs (such as kennel cough).
Dogs that have the mild form will develop a soft, moist cough that can persist for 10 to 21 days. They can be lethargic have a decreased appetite, fever, sneezing discharge from the eyes and nose. Often times the nasal discharge is thick and is a result of a secondary bacterial infection.
The severe form is typified by high fevers (104 to 106 temperature). Since dogs have not been exposed to this virus before virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected and show clinical signs, about 80%. Some dogs will not show any signs but are carriers and can still spread the virus.
Only a very small percentage of dogs die from the canine flu and the majority of those dogs were all ready debilitated from other serious diseases that left them with weak immune systems.
Dogs that are at risk are either frequently or regularly exposed to other dogs – for example dogs that board, or go to doggy day care, go to dog parks, grooming salons or go to dog shows or get walked or hike and come into contact with a lot of other dogs. Older dogs or dogs that have underlying cardiac or other respiratory illness can be possibly more susceptible in these situations. There has been some talk that have “pushed in faces” may also be at higher risk but this has not been proven.
We have not seen any actual cases of canine flu at our practice nor have I heard of any cases locally but people are coming in for the shot. The vaccine will not prevent the dog from contracting the illness but it could make the clinical signs much less severe and/or last a shorter duration. The vaccine is given under the skin and repeated 4 weeks later and an annual re-vaccination is recommended.
If you’d like your dogs to get vaccinated you can contact their veterinarian, or Chabot Veterinary Clinic at (510) 538-2330.
I’d like to give Doctor Marmolejo a very special thank you for taking the time to write this up and better educate all of us concerned dog lovers. We truly appreciate all that you do!