This summer has proven to be a very active flu season – for dogs, that is. Pet owners, their canine companions and veterinarians across the country are on high alert against the H3N8 canine flu; areas including Florida, New York City, Philadelphia and Denver have all been particularly hard hit by the flu.
Help is on the way, though. In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the first vaccine for canine influenza. The vaccine is now available at University Animal Hospital.
Canine influenza is an extremely contagious respiratory infection. Signs of the infection include cough, sneezing, runny nose and, sometimes, a fever. Canine influenza bears a close resemblance to other canine respiratory illnesses and only diagnostic tests can confirm the presence of canine influenza. It was first discovered in 2004 and has so far been documented in 30 states.
New York City dog owners should be careful. If you notice your dog is coughing, sneezing, or has a runny nose you should not shrug it off as a little cold or even allergies. The early signs of canine influenza are coughing or gagging. Clinical symptoms such as coughing, runny nose, lethargy, depression, and a fever as high as 103-107 degrees typically appear within 7 to 10 days post exposure. The severe form of canine influenza can lead to viral pneumonia.
While highly contagious, the good news is that the virus is easily killed by soap and water, disinfectants and 10 percent bleach solutions. Transmission can be prevented by isolating all suspected dogs, thorough cleaning of all cages and exposed surfaces such as floors,