Because it's a new flu strain, it made the news. People are concerned since canine influenza spreads through the air, and a dog can be contagious before showing symptoms. Hello. Grabs the attention.
Technically, there are two canine influenza strains -- H3N8 mutated from a horse flu virus and started in 2004 (so, it's been around a while), and the new virus, H3N2 mutated from a bird flu and didn't see an outbreak until March 2015 in Chicago. It has since been reported in more than a dozen states, including California, but not yet in the Bay Area.
Do not confuse the seasonal H3N2 human flu virus that sickened so many people last winter with the H3N2 canine flu. Despite the name similarity the viruses are unrelated.
Dogs exposed to H3N2 canine flu seem to catch either a severe case or a mild case with some showing no symptoms at all. A mild case looks like kennel cough, although it may be a moist cough. You may see a little coughing, a little lethargy and a runny nose. It is not to be ignored. A severe version comes with a high fever and pneumonia. It would be difficult to ignore. Chicago reports most severe cases were in dogs under 1 year or over 7 years old.
Particularly, if your dog socializes at the dog park or doggie day care, you'll want to keep a particular eye out for ANY of these symptoms: coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, fever or a general malaise.
If you see any of these signs, call us right away.
Please let us know if your dog is exhibiting any upper-respiratory symptoms. Only a physical exam and blood test can distinguish canine flu from kennel cough. If you, or we, suspect canine influenza, we will employ infection control measures such as examining the dog in your car or in our isolation area.
Infection prevention includes limiting your dog's interaction with other dogs, and reduced sharing of toys and bowls. You, yourself, may want to wash your hands and clothing after playing with other dogs. On surfaces, the virus is alive and can infect dogs for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
If you plan on boarding your dog while you're on vacation, and you have the lead-time you might want to ask your veterinarian about the canine influenza vaccine. Called the Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8