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What to Know About the "Dog Flu"


What is canine influenza? The canine influenza virus is a mutated strain of an equine influenza virus that has been detected in horses for over 40 years. The canine influenza strain is not known to infect birds or humans. (The canine influenza virus does not appear to pose a risk to people.) It is thought that the feeding of raw horse meat to greyhounds may have allowed the equine influenza virus to mutate to this highly contagious virus now infecting dogs. Canine influenza was first reported in January 2004 at a Florida greyhound track. The virus was first identified in the pet population in spring of 2005 as a cause of serious respiratory illness in dogs in shelters, humane societies, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals in Florida.

What to Know About the "Dog Flu"

What regions are affected?4) The Summer of 2018, there was a huge outbreak of Canine Influenza in South East Michigan. Over 200 confirmed cases in the local area. It also has been affecting the entire State of Michigan. There have now been cases of Canine Influenza in all 50 states. Longview now requires the Canine Influenza vaccine to board.

What to watch for? Since this is a new disease, all dogs, regardless of age or breed, are susceptible to infection and have no immunity. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus become infected and nearly 80 percent will show clinical signs of disease. Two clinical syndromes, mild and severe forms of disease, have been seen in dogs infected with canine influenza. Dogs with the mild form of disease have a soft, productive cough for 10-30 days or a nonproductive cough similar to canine cough. A thick nasal discharge may also develop in dogs with the mild form of disease. Dogs with the severe form of disease develop high fevers (104-106 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop pneumonia. The fatality rate associated with the severe form of disease is low, around 5-8 percent.

Treatment: Most dogs infected with canine influenza do not develop severe disease and will recover from this virus without any treatment. Treatment for the severe form of disease requires veterinary attention for intravenous fluids and antibiotics. There is now a canine influenza vaccine (H3N8). Vaccination for canine influenza is advised, especially for dogs frequenting boarding facilities, animal shelters or dog parks.

(Information provided by Ned F. Kuehn, DVM, MS, DACVIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine at Michigan Veterinary Specialists, 2005. Dr. Kuehn is a full-time staff member at Michigan Veterinary Specialists.)

You can also check out the Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine for updates.