Important Health Alert for all dogs
Many of you have heard about the recent outbreak of a new variety of influenza in the dog, which has affected dogs across the country, especially in the Chicago and Atlanta areas. Canine influenza virus H3N2 (CIV H3N2) is a highly contagious virus that may potentially cause serious respiratory infection and in some cases death.This is a very dangerous virus because of the ease and rapidity of transmission.
Important facts that everyone should understand about CIV H3N2:
- Dogs begin spreading the virus four days prior to showing any signs of illness. They will continue shedding the virus for 7 days after illness and then intermittently up to 24 more days. Key point: healthy looking dogs may be exposing .
- The virus may live on your hands for 12 hours, on your clothes for 24 hours, and in the environment for at least two days. A single cough by an infected dog may spread the virus 25 feet. This means you and I may easily spread the virus to our dogs.
Currently, vaccination is recommended for all dogs that are classified as risk level 2 and 3. However if I, Dr. Loden, owned a dog in risk level 1, I would still vaccinate to protect my dog from influenza.
Risk level 1
Dogs that have absolutely no contact with other dogs.
Dogs that have fence only contact with other dogs or walk in the neighborhood are not at risk level 1. The dog on the other of side of fence may be in contact with other dogs. Since many of us walk our dogs in our neighborhoods, these are not protected areas.
Risk level 1 dogs have absolutely no type of contact with other dogs.
Risk level 2
Dogs that go to the groomer, dog park, lake, boarding facility, or any place there would be contact with another dog. These dogs are at risk and should be vaccinated.
Risk level 3
Dogs that by definition have no contact with other dogs, yet have major health problems such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease or other major health problems. Most deaths occur in dogs with other health problems.
Vaccination is the key to protecting dogs at risk from this disease. The vaccine requires two injections, two weeks apart. One vaccination will not protect your dog at all. Based on the fact that this a killed vaccine, both injections are necessary for the dog to develop any protection. This is a key point to understand.
We must vaccinate our dogs before the virus becomes active in the area. Once the virus appears in the Joplin area, the virus will spread so rapidly that it is highly unlikely that we will be able to properly vaccinate your dog in time to prevent the disease.
As the gateway to the Ozarks and having a major interstate traverse this area, the number of outside dogs traveling through the area is enormous, with each one potentially being the source of infection to set off a local epidemic. Many veterinarians and caretakers are approaching the influenza with a “Let’s wait and see what happens locally.” This ideology spells disaster! We must act before the virus shows its ugly head in our community.
Other factors to consider are morbidity (the suffering and illness the dog undergoes) and mortality (up to 8% of the dogs are dying in some areas). In addition, the financial cost involved in treating the disease is tremendous. Treatment costs may range from $200.00 to $1500.00 per dog. Truly, vaccination is prevention worth the investment.
It is true that a small percentage of the dogs vaccinated may still develop illness. These dogs, however, have a shorter duration and less severe illness. All the staff and Doctors have vaccinated their dogs already. Our recommendation is that all dogs at risk should be vaccinated as soon as possible. If you have questions about the danger of flu to your pet, please call us at 417-623-3080.