Is Your Dog At Risk for the Flu?

Many of you have heard the reports of canine (dog) flu virus (H3N2) on National News last summer during a severe outbreak in the Chicago area. There have been cases reported since then across the entire United States. The current belief is that there are more cases which have not been reported due to the cost of testing. The signs of Influenza (flu) are: cough, upper respiratory infection, and potential progression to pneumonia. There may be death in up to 8% of exposed dogs. Further confusion: a second flu virus (H3N8) around since 2004, causes similar signs but a lower death rate. Both viruses may cause significant illness for dogs.

Currently, there is an individual vaccine for each form of flu virus. Unfortunately, there is no cross protection from one virus vaccine to the other. Your dog has to be vaccinated with each vaccine to be protected against each flu virus. This is a lifestyle vaccine, with recommendations for pets at risk as following:

Group 1 Low Risk
Dogs that live at home and never go anywhere that other dogs congregate. Vaccine is not routinely recommended.

Group 2 High Risk
Dogs that go to dog parks, boarding facilities, grooming parlors, doggy day care centers, city parks, or any other area in which dogs congregate. Vaccine is recommended.

Group 3 Extreme Risk
Dogs that have pre-existing heart or respiratory disease even if they do not go to areas where dog congregate. . These are the individuals that are at the greatest risk for death ; vaccine is necessary.

Remember more lives have been saved with vaccine than any other major medical or surgical procedure.