Facts About the Flu
Canine Influenza has recently been diagnosed in over 300 dogs in the Chicago area. So far, a few cases have been reported in Wisconsin, but there have been NO cases in Minnesota. Here are some basic facts about the flu that dog owners should be aware of:
- The Canine Flu virus is spread through respiratory secretions.
- It is most commonly seen when many dogs are in direct contact or housed together, such as at a boarding kennel or doggy daycare, dog parks, groomers, or at dog shows or other competitions
- Signs and symptoms include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, and a high fever. The majority of dogs have only mild clinical signs that resolve with supportive care; however, a small percentage can develop more severe pneumonia.
- The best prevention is good hygiene and sanitation in exposed areas, as the virus is easily killed by most regular disinfectants. For dogs in our area, the best prevention is to AVOID travelling to areas affected by the flu. This means at the present time it is not advised to bring your dog along if you are visiting Chicago or eastern Wisconsin.
- There is a vaccine for Canine Influenza. It is not used as a routine “core” vaccine because the disease is uncommon and usually avoidable with travel restrictions. However, in dogs that are travelling to shows, other competitions, or planning to visit the Flu endemic area around Chicago, it may be appropriate to vaccinate. The current Flu outbreak has been identified as a new and different strain, so we DO NOT know for certain if the available vaccine offers good protection; however, it may be worth using in certain dogs who will be in high risk situations.
Overall, Canine Influenza is a virus that can cause significant illness, but is usually able to be avoided and contained with good precautionary measures. Since there have been no cases in Minnesota at this time, we are not currently recommending routine vaccination. If you are concerned about exposure, or have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to discuss it with your veterinarian.