The newest strain of dog flu to really begin impacting New York City dogs isn’t necessarily a new strain of the virus. This virus (know as H3N2 CIV) actually evolved from an avian flu and appeared in both South Korea and China nearly ten years ago. People may remember the virus being a big deal last March in Chicago when a wave of outbreaks were being reported. Since that time at least twenty-six states have reported cases.
It seems as though the virus is now showing signs of life in New York. A new vaccine is now available. This H3N2 flu vaccine is different from the H3N8 vaccine that has been protecting many NYC dogs over the last couple of years and you will need that particular vaccine to keep your dog protected. Neither vaccine can protect against both strains.
In most cases the symptoms include nasal discharge, fatigue, coughing and lack of appetite. The H3N2 virus is spreading more effectively than the H3N8 virus because some dogs do not exhibit symptoms and dogs stay contagious longer. That means an infected dog can be spreading the virus around while the owner is completely unaware there is any problem.
Social dogs are, of course, at a greater risk of infection. The dog flu virus is spread through air, contaminated surfaces (food and water bowls) and humans that have had contact with infected dogs. Boarding facilities, groomers, dog runs and apartment buildings that house many pets are all places that, if frequented, could put your furry child at more risk than others. It’s probably a good idea to avoid those stores or banks that have communal water bowls set out for dogs as well. Can you imagine drinking from a single cup of water that your bank left near the ATMs that several dozen strangers had used that day? I just pictured it and it made me queasy.
Though rare, the canine influenza virus can be deadly in some circumstances. Apparently fewer than ten percent of cases are fatal but that number isn’t minuscule by any means.
Is the dog flu worth vaccinating against or not?
At the very least it is worth discussing with your veterinarian if the vaccine is right for you. Make an appointment to meet with one of our amazing doctors if you are thinking about vaccinating your pet for the flu vaccine.