There has been quite a bit of information in the press recently about outbreaks of canine flu in the area-particularily in Northern Virginia where the latest outbreak occured this fall. We have been fielding lots of questions from clients regarding this disease and we wanted to clarify some information about the disease and the new vaccine that has become available.
Canine Influenza is a viral disease similar to our human flu. This is a new disease in the canine world and because of that, dogs do not have any pre-existing immunity. As a result, about 80% of dogs that are exposed to the virus become sick. Symptoms are similar to our flu and included fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and eye discharge. Approximately 10-20% of dogs develop a severe form which can include pneumonia and can require hospitalization. As many as 8% of infected dogs die from complications of the disease. The virus is quite contagious and is easily spread by direct contact, cough or sneeze, or via contaminated surfaces.
For dogs at highest risk (those that are boarded, go to doggie daycare, pet stores, dog parks or dog shows), there is a vaccine available. This vaccine helps protect against serious lung damage, reduces symptoms and reduces the amount of virus spread into the environment thereby slowing the spread of the disease to other dogs. In clinical trials the vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective. Germantown Veterinary Clinic now has the Canine Influenza Vaccine available for at risk dogs. If you are concerned about this disease and are interested in the vaccine for your dog or have questions about whether your dog should be vaccinated, please feel free to call us at 301-972-9730 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org