Canine Influenza- The Breakout In Florida And How Can We Protect Our Pets

Canine Influenza- The Breakout In Florida And How Can We Protect Our Pets

Hi Everyone!

Due to the recent outbreak of canine influenza in Florida, I have been getting an influx of phone calls, appointments, and questions about the disease and how to keep our pets safe.  I wanted to take some time to discuss the breakout in Florida, canine influenza in general, and what we can do to protect our pets.

So far, 12 dogs in Florida have tested positive for a strain of dog flu virus known as H3N2, and many other dogs in central and north Florida are suspected to have the dog flu, this is according to a statement from the University Of Florida College Of Veterinary Medicine

What is canine influenza? Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. Two canine influenza viruses have been identified worldwide: an influenza H3N8 virus and an influenza H3N2 virus (the strand that was isolated in the Chicago 2015 outbreak).

How can my pet contract canine influenza? Canine influenza is highly contagious and is transmitted through direct contact, contaminated bowls or toys, or even by touching another dog after you have touched an infected dog.  Dogs that are around other infected dogs, such as in boarding facilities, dog parks, grooming facilities, and shelters are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.

Can the disease be passed on to me? To date, there is no evidence of transmission of dog flu virus from dogs to people and there have been no reported human infections with the canine influenza viruses.

What are the clinical signs? Generally speaking, the dog flu infections are mild and dogs are able to recover in a couple of weeks. Sometimes, however, the infection can become severe.  Signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose

How does my veterinarian diagnose canine influenza? Your veterinarian can run a blood test or a PCR test, which involves swabbing your dog’s oral cavity. These tests can identify the presence of canine influenza virus.  Other diagnostic tests, such as radiographs, urinalysis, and further blood work may be recommended.

How do you treat canine influenza? Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for canine influenza, and like the human flu, it has to run its course, which could take a few weeks. Most dogs with mild symptoms will not need any treatment, though dogs with more severe symptoms may need supportive care with fluids, supplemental feedings, or even antibiotics in the event of a secondary infection such as pneumonia.

How can I prevent my dog from contracting canine influenza?  Be aware of any outbreaks in your area and react accordingly. If you come into contact with a dog that is showing any of the clinical signs listed above, wash your hands and change your clothes before touching your dog. In addition, keep toys and bowls clean.

When it comes to boarding, make sure to ask the facility staff if they have had any outbreaks of infectious diseases like canine influenza or kennel cough.  Inquire about their vaccination requirements, and chose a facility that requires your pet be up to date on the kennel cough and influenza vaccination.

In addition, if your dog is diagnosed with dog flu, you should keep your pet away from other dogs and cats for four weeks. Although dogs typically recover sooner than this, they can remain contagious for about a month, the University of Florida says.

Merck and Zoetis announced it had received a conditional license from the USDA to market Canine Influenza Vaccine H3N2 which requires two doses, administered a few weeks apart.   So dog owners who want total protection will have to get separate vaccines for H3N8 and H3N2, Merck and Zoetis have said.

I am strongly encouraging all my clients to have their pets vaccinated for influenza H3N8 and the H3N2 Strain.

I hope this helps to alleviate some of the anxiety associated with the current breakout.  If you are concerned your pet is showing any signs and may have contracted canine influenza, contact Victoria your veterinarian with any questions you may have and to schedule an appointment.





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