Should your dog have Canine Influenza vaccines?

You may have heard about the major outbreak of canine Influenza (CIV) in the mid west – there have been more than 1000 cases in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin recently. This is (mostly) a newer strain of influenza (H3N8 is the original one; this one is H3N2). People do not get this virus. Symptoms are very similar to the existing H3N8; most dogs get a runny nose, a liitle cough and possibly some sneezing, a lot like a person with a cold. Many dogs do not need to be treated, and recover on their own. However, just like with human respiratory viruses, this influenza has the potential to cause bronchitis, pneumonia, and even death in rare cases. Young puppies and elderly dogs can have more serious symptoms, and should stay away from places where dogs congregate if at all possible.

Cases of Upper Respiratory Infections (URI) will be treated on a case-by-case basis; most dogs respond well to antibiotics (where needed for secondary infections) and nursing care, which is the same way we treat URI’s that are caused by something other than CIV.

Our current vaccine recommendations have changed, and now include getting CIV vaccines for your dog IF your dog goes to any kennel, groomer, pet stores, dog parks, or any other location where dogs congregate in a small area, or if you have another family dog that goes to these places. If your dog has not had CIV vaccines before, it is a 2-vaccine process (three weeks apart). The best protection will not be achieved until a few weeks after the second dose, so it is wise to be proactive.

Local kennels may all begin requiring CIV vaccines (a few have been requiring them for several years). If your dog will be going to a kennel this year, he/she should have CIV vaccines even if the kennel is not yet requiring this.

Unfortunately for our canine patients, CIV vaccine supply is mostly going to the areas where the outbreaks are – vaccines are in short supply and they are rationed. We have some on order but do not know when we will receive our doses. We will post a notice here on our web site when we get more vaccines – if you would like to get your dog vaccinated for CIV, please call the hospital at 703-378-8813 and we will put your dog’s name on our CIV priority list – we will call you as soon as more vaccines arrive.

Please don’t hesitate to send us an email if you have specific questions or concerns; or call the hospital for more information.