Canine Flu: Is My Dog At Risk?

Recent media reports have highlighted the current outbreak of Canine Influenza (aka Canine Flu) occurring in the Chicago area. These reports have also prompted several questions to Kulshan regarding the disease and how best to protect ones pet. The doctors and staff of Kulshan Veterinary Hospital closely monitor all news related to animal health issues and are eager to answer any questions that you might have regarding these issues. In the case of Canine influenza, the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) and our doctors put together the following information that we feel provides our clients with accurate information and appropriate recommendations. Please contact our office if you have additional questions; please feel free to contact our office at 360-354-5095 or at We.Care@KulshanVet.com.

Additional information is available on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the website:

Recent press release
AVMA’s Canine Influenza FAQs
Pet owner’s guide to Canine Influenza

Canine influenza virus (CIV) emerged initially in 2003-2004 in racing greyhounds in Florida. Since that time the virus has been detected in the New England states, Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas. A recent outbreak has been reported in housed dogs in Illinois, which has prompted questions regarding the occurrence of the virus in the Northwest region. While there have been no documented cases to-date in our region, it is good to be familiar with the virus and its associated clinical signs in dogs.

The virus responsible for previous outbreaks has been the H3N8 strain that closely resembles an equine influenza virus strain that presumably jumped species into a susceptible breed of dog (greyhound). The virus is capable of further spread from dog to dog, but clinical symptoms vary from subclinical to a severe hemorrhagic pneumonia, which has only been reported in greyhounds. This most recent outbreak has been identified as being caused by the H3N2 strain of the virus which had previously only been identified in Asia.

The most significant risk factor for CIV infection has been indoor housing. Virtually all cases reported have involved dogs in grouped housing under stressful conditions (kennels, shelters, dog daycare facilities). Dogs of all ages are susceptible.

The virus is shed for up to 7-10 days in nasal secretions via fomites and aerosols. There are two ways to obtain a diagnosis: serology testing for antibodies or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) for viral nucleic acids. Serology testing will detect prior exposure, either subclinical infection or antibodies post-clinical recovery. PCR will detect CIV in active infection (clinical disease); it is best to submit deep nasal swabs or transtracheal lavage for CIV PCR testing.

Although there is a vaccine available, it is regarded as a noncore vaccine, unless dealing with high risk breeds and/or dogs housed in conditions previously mentioned. It is highly recommended to make sure all dogs are up-to-date on their core vaccinations (CDV, CAV-2, CPV), since co-infections with these viruses may cause underlying immune suppression and add to the severity of CIV infection.

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