We now have a confirmed case of Canine Influenza in Georgia! Did you even know dogs could get the “flu?” Well, they can and these are the things you need to know about it.
1) It causes sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular(eye) discharge. Dogs can also have lethargy(tiredness) and a fever. It can last anywhere from 10-30 days! Some dogs will have a mild form to where they just have some coughing and sneezing. Other dogs can develop a life-threatening pneumonia! The treatment we have now is supportive. We use antibiotics for any secondary infections and we primarily support the pet with IV/SQ fluids as needed for hydration.
2) We now know of two forms of canine flu. The H3N8 is the older version and the H3N2 is a newer version that was recently discovered. The older version was discovered in 2004, the more recent version was discovered this year in 2015! The letters and numbers of the name are basically a short for certain things the virus expresses. Where it becomes an issue is with creating a vaccine for it.
3) We have a vaccine for the H3N8 virus. It is a two part series, meaning your dog gets one shot and comes back in 3-4 weeks for the second shot, then yearly. Very similar to people, the vaccine does not cover both strains. This DOES NOT mean to forgo the vaccine. One of the ways these viruses mutate is by multiple strains in one pet mixing. So, if your dog gets both H3N8 and H3N2 at the same time, the viruses could mutate together to make a whole new strain! The vaccine will give your pet the best protection against the H3N8 virus and at least ensure your pet isn’t creating a new strain!
4) So what do you do if your dog is sick? If your dog has been coughing/sneezing consistently for more than 1 day and 1/2, they need to be seen. We only have about 3 days to diagnose the flu virus. After about 3 days, we are no longer able to confidently diagnose influenza or figure out what strain it is. Even though the animals are sicker for much longer, we need to see them no longer than 2 days after they begin coughing/sneezing. If your dog begins coughing and/or sneezing, you also need to keep an eye on your cat! There have been reports of cats catching the H3N2 (not in the U.S. … yet). Cats will also have coughing and sneezing.
This is a very quick and simple overview of Canine Influenza. For more in depth reading please go to:
As always, please feel free to call us with any comments or concerns.