Chocolate LabWe have recently seen a rise in canine influenza Chicagoland area and, as a result, now carry the canine influzena vaccine. Canine Influenza is a respiratory infection that is usually seen in dogs in boarding facilities, patients who visit the groomer, and animals in shelters.

In recent months, however, we also see respiratory infections in dogs who visit dog parks, attend doggie day care, and even from chance meetings with infected dogs during a walk. Canine influenza can even be brought back home on clothing and other items after owners come in contact with an infected dog!

Clinical Signs (usually exhibited 2-5 days after exposure)

Typically, we see two different types of infections:

Mild infection: Have clinical signs which include a cough that can last anywhere from 10 to 30 days, and have clear nasal discharge.

Severe infections: We can see a fever, thick mucoid nasal discharge, anorexia, lethargy, difficulty breathing and sometimes even pneumonia.

Luckily, 80% of infected dogs have mild clinical signs, and 20% of patients have a subclinical infection (no clinical signs are seen at all). Rarely do patients progress to the severe level. While it is very easy for disease to spread, the mortality rate is very low WITH swift and appropriate veterinary care.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Canine Influzena

After clinical signs are noticed by the pet owner, it is important for the patient to be evaluated by a veterinarian.

  • Physical Exam: This helps us get a complete history, get to know what your dogs’ daily life is like, and check them for symptoms.
  • Bloodwork: This is frequently recommended to look at the White Blood Cell count and make sure there are no other underlying problems which may complicate recovery. 
  • Chest Radiographs (x-rays): This will be recommended to look for signs of pneumonia. 
  • Nasal Swabs (PCR testing): This must be done within 3 – 4 days of the onset of clinical signs. Since the timing of the test is so important, it can be difficult to get accurate results.
  • Serology (blood testing): Testing via blood sampling is also time dependent. Two blood samples are required to be taken. The first must be within 7 days of showing clinical signs. The second sample is drawn 3 weeks later. This means that the patient may have already recovered from the infection by the time final lab results are in. 

Treatment

If a patient is displaying only mild clinical signs of canine influenza, it is recommend to be treated as an out-patient. This way, the patient can be isolated at home from other dogs, and decrease the risk of exposure to other animals. It is very important that the patient be isolated from other animals to minimize disease transmission of this highly infectious disease.

Treatment usually consists of:

  • Oral antibiotics 
  • Cough suppressants 
  • Medications to open the airway 

Prevention

The Canine Influzena vaccine is an FDA-approved drug that was developed in 2009. The first series is given as two injections, 2 – 4 weeks apart. Thereafter, the vaccine is boostered annually. In addition to vaccination for canine influenza, it is recommended for dogs to be vaccinated for Bordetella (Kennel Cough), especially those who are frequently at the groomer, in boarding facilities, or at doggie day care. (Note: Kennel Cough is caused by different types of bacteria and viruses not discussed here.)

Beginning May 1, 2015, all patients being boarded, groomed, or having surgery at Glenwood Village Pet Hospital will be required to have the canine influenza vaccine. In addition to vaccination, it is recommended to avoid any dogs which are displaying signs of a respiratory disease.