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Preventing Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)

Source: Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Updated on July 16, 2015
Influenza

Introduction

Canine Influenza is spread through respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces. People can provide excellent pathways for disease spread (ex. kennel workers, pet store workers, friends) when they move between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus spreads easily in close proximity, but can also be spread outside of enclosed or crowded environments.

Preventing Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)

Because of the highly contagious nature of this illness and widespread susceptibility of patients, veterinarians, boarding facilities, shelters and pet stores should institute effective isolation protocol for dogs that have any “kennel-type cough” or undiagnosed pneumonia.

Equally important is the protection of other dogs while any infected dogs are undergoing diagnosis, treatment, and hospitalization.

Veterinarians will also monitor the spread of the new influenza infection closely. Though it is not widespread in North America at this time, it is likely to spread quickly and front-line awareness will be essential to contain future outbreaks.

Precautionary Measures

Pet owners should use common sense and take reasonable precautions to protect their dogs, and other dogs from contracting the canine influenza virus.

  • Dog owners who have a dog with an active respiratory illness or one that has recently recovered from a respiratory infection should keep their dog at home for a couple of weeks. This will allow rest so that the dog fully recovers from their illness, and also helps prevent potential infection transmission to other dogs.
  • If a dog is exhibiting coughing, labored breathing, nasal discharge, fever or lethargy, isolate the dog and seek veterinary advice promptly.
  • Inform your veterinarian if your dog has stayed at a boarding kennel recently or has been out to shows or trials.
  • If your dog will be staying in a boarding kennel in the near future, be sure that the kennel is well-known to you and ask them if any kennel cough has gone through the facility recently, or is currently a concern.
  • Be aware that vaccination for kennel cough agents (Bordetella, Parainfluenza) required by many boarding kennels will not protect against this new virus.
  • Remain alert to potential outbreaks of canine influenza in your area.
  • Otherwise, dog owners should continue their routine activities with their dogs. This includes visiting dog parks, walking their dogs and visiting the veterinarian or groomer.
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