What is Canine Influenza (CIV)?
Canine influenza virus (CIV) is the result of two influenza strains: H3N8 and H3N2. These strains were formerly known to infect species other than dogs, but they are now able to affect canines. Please note: there is no “season” for the canine influenza virus, and infections may occur year-round.
Can Canine Influenza Affect Humans?
Canine influenza poses no threat to humans, and it is also being closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If your dog does get infected, you can give it plenty of care without being worried about being infected yourself.
Canine Influenza Symptoms
Signs of canine influenza are similar to kennel cough; however, they are more severe. Symptoms include:
- Low-grade fever
- Eye or nasal discharge
It usually takes two to four days for signs to develop—infected dogs are most contagious during this period, making rapid transmission likely. They continue to spread the virus for up to 20 days.
When Should I Seek Medical Help for My Dog?
Since canine influenza is easily mistaken with kennel cough, dogs with clinical symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian as a precautionary measure.
How is CIV Spread?
Canine influenza is spread through:
- Nasal discharge
- Contaminated objects (bowls, leashes, kennel walls and floors)
All canines are at-risk of being infected, especially since CIV is a new disease for dogs. Severe, life-threatening pneumonia may also develop in some instances, although most dogs will only develop a mild form of canine influenza and recover without complications.
Should I Get My Dog Vaccinated?
Dogs who travel a lot, interact frequently with other dogs and those that are kenneled often should be considered for vaccination. At-risk breeds and dogs should also be considered. These dogs include:
- Older dogs
- Dogs with heart conditions
- Dogs with respiratory conditions
- Dogs with short, flat faces such as Boston Terriers, Boxers, Pekingese, Pugs and Shih Tzus
Is the Vaccine Safe and 100% Effective?
To date, there have been no reported issues with the CIV vaccination.
The vaccine does not completely prevent CIV, however, it may reduce the severity and duration of clinical signs associated with the infection—this is especially important for at-risk dogs and is important to help prevent outbreaks.
Talk to your veterinarian to see if vaccinating against CIV is right for your dog.
What is the Treatment Protocol for Dogs with Canine Influenza?
Your dog must be kept in a dry, warm area away from other dogs, kept well-hydrated and fed a high-quality diet. Dogs that are exposed to the virus should be isolated for at least four weeks to prevent spreading of the disease.
For dogs that develop pneumonia, hospitalization may be required, as well as medications, intravenous fluids, medications and potent antibiotics.
The majority of dogs fully recover within two to three weeks. Please consult with your veterinarian to determine a treatment plan.
My Dog is Infected. How Do I Prevent My Dog from Spreading CIV?
It is very important for infected dogs to be kept away from other dogs and from places where dogs gather. Please isolate them from groomers, kennels and parks and prevent contact with other dogs during walks. Also, please remember to thoroughly clean hands, clothing, floors and equipment with soap and water.