Protect your Dog from Canine Influenza

William Fullmer DVM By William Fullmer DVM, 13th Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1tbyid9z/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Dogs

One of the relatively new changes by influenza A virus is a recent mutation that allowed the Equine H3N8 virus to infect dogs1. This mutation appears to have originated in Florida in racing greyhounds. The dogs were fed horse meat that was infected with the virus, at which time it mutated and gained the ability to infect dogs.

Influenza viruses are an important class of organisms that cause respiratory disease and have the ability to infect a wide variety of species.

Influenza viruses are an important class of organisms that cause respiratory disease and have the ability to infect a wide variety of species. These viruses also have the ability to mutate and increase either their virulence or ability to infect new species, and are highly contagious. There are three main strains of the virus, A, B, and C.

One of the relatively new changes by influenza A virus is a recent mutation that allowed the Equine H3N8 virus to infect dogs1. This mutation appears to have originated in Florida in racing greyhounds. The dogs were fed horse meat that was infected with the virus, at which time it mutated and gained the ability to infect dogs.

As stated earlier influenza viruses characteristically cause respiratory illness and are highly contagious. Because it is a relatively new virus most dogs haven’t any immunity to it and nearly 100% of exposed dogs will become infected, while about 80% will show clinical signs. The 10% of dogs that don’t show clinical signs are still able to shed the virus and infect other dogs1.

Signs of canine influenza are coughing, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and nasal discharge. Most dogs will only develop a mild case, but about 20% will develop a serious case, and some have died from pneumonia and complications of infection1.

As stated earlier all dogs are at risk for canine influenza because of its contagious nature and the fact that because it is a new mutation very few of the canine population have been exposed. Dogs with the highest risk are those that are routinely exposed to other dogs, such as dogs that are groomed, shown at dog shows, kenneled, visit dog parks, or come into contact with other dogs while at your veterinarian’s clinic. The virus is spread through direct contact, coughing or sneezing, or contact with contaminated surfaces such as hands, clothing, collars etc1.

Because influenza is a viral disease if your dog does become infected there is no specific treatment available. As with you when you have a viral infection rest, proper nutrition, and TLC go a long way. Influenza can become complicated with secondary viral infections which can lead to severe illness. If your dog isn’t eating or drinking , has a productive cough, or a green or yellow nasal discharge you should schedule an exam with your veterinarian as soon as possible1. As always however, if you have any questions or concerns it is always safer to schedule an exam.

Fortunately there is a very good vaccine developed that can help control the disease. The vaccine is an injectable vaccine administered by your veterinarian that will require a series of injections two to four weeks apart and then a yearly booster thereafter. Other ways to help protect your pet is to make sure that they are in good health, well nourished and that their other vaccines are up to date. Making sure that their other vaccines are up to date will help prevent other diseases especially other respiratory diseases, making them less susceptible to influenza infection. Make sure that you board your dog at a reputable kennel that is clean and well maintained.

Your veterinarian is the best source of information on appropriate vaccine protocols for your dog. Make sure that you have consulted with them on whether you should add canine influenza vaccination to your dog’s vaccine schedule.

1. Canine Influenza What do I need to know? Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health

Tags

Canine, Canine Influenza, Respiratory Complaints, Respiratory Disorders, Respiratory Infections, Respiratory Tract, Viral, Viral Infections

Meet the author

author avatar William Fullmer DVM
Dr. Fullmer graduated from Washington State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He also graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Veterinary Sciences and f

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