Friday, June 21, 2013

Canine Influenza vaccine

When Ares was first diagnosed with mange, the vet asked if I wanted to vaccinate against canine influenza. Ares couldn't get it at the time because he wasn't completely healthy but we finally started the series of two shots at the end of May. We had to come back between 2-4 weeks for the second shot. If we missed that time frame, we had to start over again. After the second shot (which we got today), we only vaccinate once a year.

If you're like me, you've never even heard of canine influenza. In fact, in my area, we haven't even had a case of it. But it's coming. And it's not a good illness to catch.

Canine influenza was originally a horse virus but recently spread to dogs. Humans can't catch this from their pups but it is extremely contagious between dogs and humans can actually pass on the virus to other dogs by petting and infected dog then later petting a healthy dog. It's been around for horses for 40 years and made the jump to dogs in 2004 and was initially found in greyhounds. Because it's a relatively new illness, dogs don't have a natural immunity to it, which makes vaccinations important. As of 2006, it has been confirmed to be found in 22 states.

Symptoms of canine influenza include cough, runny nose, and fever but a small portion develop a serious disease. It is an upper respiratory infection which is what really scares me with squishy faced dogs - I will not jeopardize their breathing. Most of the time, when dogs get it, antibiotics will take care of it but in more severe cases, it will cause a secondary infection which includes pneumonia. If not given proper treatment, the death rate is at 50%. The actual mortality rate for dogs that catch the dog flu 5-8%.

Many dog owners are choosing not to vaccinate because they can recover relatively easily and research has shown that once the dog recovers from the flu, they are immune for two years.

I'm sharing this information because I had never heard about it before, which I found surprising. Research the virus and if you think your dog should get it, talk to your vet about it.

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