Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease of dogs, made up of 2 subtypes; H3N2 and H3N8 Canine influenza was first recognized in January 2004 at a greyhound racing track in Florida. The disease is very easily transmitted dog to dog but there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans. The primary route of transmission between dogs is via aerosolized respiratory secretions, contaminated objects and people. In the environment the virus can remain active from 12 to 48 hours.
There now is an outbreak in the San Francisco Bay area with 9 confirmed cases and another suspected 70 plus cases. To date, there have been only two relatively few confirmed cases of canine influenza in Oregon. But, due to the geographical proximity to Portland and the many links with business and travel and dog adoptions between the two areas, the Portland Veterinary Medical Association, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association and the Oregon State Public Health Veterinarian are recommending vaccination of at risk dogs to hopefully prevent a similar outbreak here. The vaccines recommend are the 2-dose series that will cover both subtypes, that are given 2-4 weeks apart. NOTE: In general, immunity does not develop until 7-10 days AFTER the 2nd booster.
Dogs most at risk are those with a social lifestyle: dogs frequenting dog parks, daycare and boarding facilities, grooming parlors, rescue pets, and therapy dogs. Also at risk are dogs with underlying lung and heart disease, senior pets and those of the brachycephalic breeds (pugs, boston terriers, bulldogs, etc.) are more at risk for severe complications from this disease.
Canine influenza causes symptoms that often look just like kennel cough in the early stages of illness. Canine Influenza however, seems to be even more contagious than kennel cough and can potentially lead to very serious illness. Nearly all dogs exposed to the virus become infected and most dogs infected with the virus will exhibit mild symptoms. A soft, moist cough is common however, some dogs will have a dry cough similar to kennel cough. Some dogs are more severely affected having a colored nasal discharge and fever. In a small number of dogs, pneumonia and high fever are seen.
Similar to all viral diseases, canine influenza is treated with predominantly supportive care. Good nursing care, husbandry and nutrition, together with the isolation of infected individuals are all used when an outbreak is noted. Many dogs respond with no treatment and others require hospitalization and medications.
Based on the present risk to dogs in the Portland metro area to canine influenza, the Parkway Veterinary Hospital is now recommending vaccinating at-risk dogs.
If you are concerned that your pet may be at risk for canine influenza or if you have more questions about vaccinating, please schedule an appointment for an exam and consultation.
The Parkway Veterinary Health-Care Team