Just like people, dogs can be affected by different strains of influenza. There are two strains of the influenza virus known to affect dogs; H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 broke out around 2004 in Florida and H3N2 was first seen in Chicago in 2015. Since then it has been seen in almost all parts of the United States and several other countries as well.
Unfortunately, Texas has seen confirmed cases of both strains of the canine influenza virus (or CIV). This respiratory infection is relatively new. Because of this, almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when exposed because they have not built up natural immunity to it yet. Most dogs that develop an infection caused by this virus have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment from their veterinarian. Virtually all dogs exposed become infected with the virus, but only 80% develop clinical signs. The other approximate 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs can still shed the virus and spread the infection. Scary, right?
So, how is it spread?
Canine Influenza can pass between dogs through virus particles in the air (coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs. It can also be transferred indirectly—say if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (food bowls or toys). Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs if they do not properly sanitize after touching an infected dog, or if their clothing isn’t properly cleaned. Incubation of the virus is typically 2-5 days from exposure to the onset of clinical signs and it can still be spread during that time.
We are doing everything we can to help keep this virus contained in our community. Education is the first step to preventing more outbreaks! Vaccines are available for both the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. There is even a combination vaccine (or bivalent vaccine) that covers for both strains in just one vaccine. Just like when your dog was an adorable puppy, if this vaccine is new to their system they would need to get one booster done 2-4 weeks after the initial vaccination was given. After that, the vaccine is done once yearly.
You can do your part by vaccinating your dog for canine influenza. If your pet is not currently vaccinated, you should avoid places where dogs congregate such as dog parks, grooming salons, kennels and daycares. Be sure to check with your groomer and/or boarding facilities about their vaccination policies to make sure you are in compliance with them! We highly recommend that every dog be vaccinated for both strains of the canine influenza, regardless of their lifestyle.
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to get your dog vaccinated, please contact us at 281-282-9944 (or your regular veterinarian!). We’re happy to talk about this and help you decide what is best for your dog!
By: Shelly Crosson