As pet care professionals, we here at Elliot’s House Pet Care + More understand the importance of vaccinations. Keeping your pup’s vaccinations up to date is the easiest way to ensure they stay happy and healthy. Vaccines are essential for social dogs that go on frequent walks to the dog park and visit daycare on a regular basis.  Vaccinations do not guarantee that your pup won’t catch something while out with other dogs, but they help to protect your pup against communicable diseases and reduce the chance of a disease spreading around the dog park or daycare.

Up until 2015, most dog daycares only required Bordetella, Rabies, and Distemper vaccinations. These vaccinations are considered the “Big Three” by most pet care specialists as they help to prevent the spread of kennel cough and distemper while ensuring that attendants are protected from contracting rabies. This all changed in 2015 when a massive outbreak of dog flu (canine influenza) hit the United States. The outbreak affected thousands of dogs initially and the virus quickly spread across more than half of the country in the span of nine months. Since this outbreak, veterinarians and other pet care specialists have increasingly called for pet parents to consider vaccinating their pup against canine influenza. In this post, we will look into the causes of canine influenza, what we currently know about canine influenza and the best ways to prevent and treat canine influenza.

Canine Influenza, also known as the dog flu, was first recognized in 2004, but the first major outbreak didn’t occur until 2015. In 2015, the H3N2 strain of canine influenza popped up for the first time in the United States. The virus spread quickly across the United States and now outbreaks of the H3N2 strain and the newer H3N8 strain of Canine Influenza occur in nearly every state.

Almost all dogs are susceptible to the strains of Canine Influenza when they are exposed because it is a newer virus and they have no built up natural immunity. Most dogs that develop an infection caused by this virus only experience mild symptoms, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment by a licensed veterinarian. Dog flu can pass between dogs via coughing, dog kisses, and shared toys/bowls. Humans can also transfer the virus between dogs if they do not properly sanitize themselves after touching an infected dog. A dog can be infected with dog flu for 2-4 days before any symptoms are present. Common symptoms are persistent cough, nasal discharge, and fever. It is important to get your dog tested by the veterinarian if they have a canine cough as Dog Flu symptoms can sometimes seem like other respiratory infections. Most clinics have multiple methods to test for both strains of Dog Flu (CIV H3N8 and CIV H3N2). Once a dog is infected symptoms can last from 7-10 days depending on the dog.

The best method of prevention for Canine Influenza is vaccination. There are vaccinations that protect your dog from both strains of the Dog Flu all in one vaccination. Other than vaccination being attentive and careful when socializing your dog is important. Airborne diseases can spread quickly so if you think that your dog has been exposed it is best to book an appointment with your family veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you are looking for more information on the Dog Flu, visit www.dogflu.com for in-depth information from a network of trusted veterinarians.

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