With all the media last year about H1N1 we are by now all aware of the risks of the flu for ourselves and children, but what about our pets? In 2004 an outbreak of a new flu strain broke out in racing Greyhounds in Florida dubbed H3N8.
The flu mimics the symptoms of kennel cough and like the human version of the flu is transmitted by contact. Since it is a new flu strain most dogs do not have any immunity and H3N8 can spread rapidly in kennels, animal shelters, pet stores, veterinary clinics, groomers, day cares and other dog friendly places.
Testing is available through veterinary testing labs so outbreaks can be monitored. According to the CDC as of 2009 only 30 states and the District of Columbia had verified outbreaks.
Some dogs show no signs of infection, some get sick – coughing, sneezing, and runny nose. A few dogs may end up with secondary infection, pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.
So, how do you decide?
As with any flu vaccine the health of your dog and your lifestyle play into it. So ask yourselves these questions?
- How healthy is my dog?
- Is it a breed that is susceptible to pneumonia?
- Does my dog spend a lot of time with other dogs?
- Do I spend a lot with other dogs?
- Do you travel with your dog?
If the answer is yes, talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to let you know what the current risks are and if any outbreaks have occurred in your area or the states you are traveling through. The cost is relatively minimal around $50 for the shot and booster.
(This was originally written for an online outlet but I missed the deadline – I know pathetic – but I thought I’d put it up just for the fun of it. FYI canine flu has not reached the west coast – so all of you PNW dog lovers can breathe easy.)