Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza was first identified in racing Greyhounds in Florida 2004. Genetic analysis of this virus shows that Canine Influenza is closely related to Equine (Horse) Influenza and not the swine or H1N1 virus. Over the past few years it has spread across the United States. In May and June 2008 it presented itself in Chicago and we have not seen it here since.

Canine Influenza has a short incubation period of 2-4 days. Most ill dogs will present with flu-like symptoms of runny nose, coughing, lethargy and fever. Approximately 25% of the pets exposed to this virus will remain completely asymptomatic but can still spread the virus to other dogs. A small percentage of ill pets will initially present with an upper respiratory infection that progresses to pneumonia. We recommend isolating all sick pets from other dogs for two weeks since it is highly contagious.

This virus is spread from one infectious pet to another in the air, on contaminated objects like kennels, food and water bowls, collars and leashes and hands. The virus can remain viable and infectious on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing 24 hours and on the hands for 12 hours. There are no anti-viral drugs available but we frequently recommend a cough suppressant for symptomatic relief and antibiotics to minimize secondary bacterial infections from developing.

Given the fact that we have not diagnosed Canine Influenza at Animal Medical Center of Chicago in over 1 year, we have elected NOT to recommend the new Canine Influenza Vaccine to every canine patient in our practice. For clients who take their pets to dog shows or travel with their dogs to heavily concentrated areas of pets, we may recommend this vaccine. This vaccine does NOT prevent the disease but will reduce the severity of the disease in your pet.

If you suspect your pet of having a respiratory infection, please call Animal Medical Center of Chicago to schedule a doctor’s appointment for evaluation and care.

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