Canine Influenza Information

ABOUT K9 FLU: This is a rare disease with sporadic outbreaks

  • There are currently only 34 confirmed cases in Chicago out of over 1000 dogs coughing; many coughing dogs have respiratory infections that are not canine influenza.
  • There are no reported cases in Minnesota.

Infection rate is high but about 50% of animals infected will make antibodies and clear the virus without showing infection.

Symptoms are similar to kennel cough

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • A very small percentage progress to pneumonia; majority of cases are managed on outpatient symptomatic therapy (antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection)
  • Small percentage of patients require hospitalization for fluids, etc. Use of Tamiflu is not recommended unless the infection is caught very early on (first 2 days).  The incubation period (time from infection to signs) is 2-5 days. Duration of disease can be 1-3 weeks. Dogs are only infectious for up to 10 days after first signs.

HOW TO TEST: To confirm that a dog has canine influenza, there are two tests: PCR (has to be done in first 3-5 days) from a throat swab or serology (blood draw done on day of presentation and then 10 days later)

VACCINE: There are currently 2 vaccines available on the market- it is a non-core vaccine meaning it is considered a non- essential vaccine due to the non-endemic nature of the virus. These vaccines are seperate from the distemper combo vaccine or the bordatella vaccine.

***Neither vaccine PREVENTS infection; it only decreases symptoms if they catch it***

  • Some dogs will still get it and get sick.The vaccine requires an initial shot followed by a booster 2-3 weeks later (dog is not considered immune until 10 days after the booster). It has to be given annually thereafter.  Vaccination is only recommended for dogs at risk. Dogs at risk are dogs that are in kennels or dog parks with COUGHING dogs. The current strain that is being found in Chicago, IL and WI is not the strain that the vaccines were made for, just like our flu vaccine is made against different strains each year.

RISK TO HUMANS: People cannot get infected from dogs

  • Dogs at risk are dogs that are in kennels or dog parks with COUGHING dogs. Soap and water is extremely effective at inactivating the virus. Our recommendations are to isolate any coughing dogs (if your dog is coughing, do not take it to a dog park, boarding facility, groomers, etc). Ask any facilities that you are taking your dog to if there have been any coughing dogs. If there has been coughing dogs, do not take your dog there.  If your dog is coughing, contact your veterinarian.

Please contact us if you have any further questions regarding canine influenza or K9 flu.

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