Canine influenza, also known as H3N8, showed up about five years ago and our dogs are a great risk for contracting this virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, the virus was first identified in the USA in 2004 after a respiratory disease outbreak in racing Greyhounds in Florida. The virus has existed in horses for more than twenty years before crossing over into dogs and the virus has been spreading ever since.
The good news is simple cleanliness is one key to helping dogs avoid the flu. Plain soap and water goes a long way to disinfecting your home and protecting your dogs. Here are some additional steps for you to take:
Vaccination. Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health based in Kennilworth, New Jersey, has a vaccine available to veterinarians made from inactivated (killed) virus. The vaccine is said to help control the flu by reducing the severity of lung lesions, coughing and viral shedding. It is important to note that veterinarians say the vaccine is only for dogs often in close contact with other dogs, or those that live in areas with high outbreak rates.
Stay Away From Germ "Hot Spots" like community water bowls, dog parks, and other mass gathering locations.
Observe Your Dog and look for flu symptoms that look like a cold or allergies. If your dog is showing symptoms with watery eyes, runny nose, coughing or sneezing and has a fever, that indicates an immediate trip to your veterinarian.
Your dog doesn't need to avoid public places and other dogs all year, but it is a good idea to pay attention during flu season and add an ounce of prevention.
More information on Canine Influenza (H3N8) can be found on the CDC web site.
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