What You Need to Know about the Canine Influenza Virus

Photo from abcnews.go.com

Photo from abcnews.go.com

For all you dog moms and dads out there, listen up: there is an epidemic of the highly contagious canine influenza making it's way across the country that can pose a serious risks to your fur babies. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

"...the Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. There are two different influenza Type A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus.

There is an approved vaccine to protect dogs against canine influenza A H3N8 available in the United States, however it is unknown at this time whether this vaccine will protect against the H3N2 canine flu virus [which is the strain going around]."

What reportedly started in Chicago early this spring has spread to anywhere from 10 to 15 states, depending on what source you reference. The 15 states with reported cases are California, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alabama, Ohio, Michigan, South Dakota and Georgia. 

Photo from dogintonpost.com

Photo from dogintonpost.com

Although only fatal in 2-3% of dogs, if left untreated the disease could pose a serious risk to your dog's health.

The symptoms of canine flu can include fever, lethargy, coughing, and nasal and/or eye discharge, but not all dogs will initially show signs of illness. The disease is the most contagious before any sign of symptoms begin.

Dogs spread the disease nose to nose as well as from items and areas that they've come into contact with. Vets are recommending that dog owners avoid dog parks, kennels and day care facilities until the disease is contained.

The CDC also reports that so far no human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. However, influenza viruses are constantly changing and it's possible that the virus could change and infect humans and spread easily between humans. 

If you suspect your dog may have canine influenza you should contact your vet right away.

But don't just take my word for it, read more information from USA Today here, the American Kennel Club here and the CDC here. Or find your state's State Animal Health Official here

Keep an eye on your pups!