Canine Flu is prevalent in Columbus, OH, this year.
Some daycares and boarding facilities have shut down. Dog parks are empty. Clinicians will come out to your car to vaccinate your pet. This is not “Kennel Cough” or Bordetella. The fatality rate is listed as “low” but, to us, 10% is not low. If you have a young pup, a senior dog, or a dog with other immunity-challenges, the flu might be very dangerous. Sometimes a dog will develop a secondary infection like pneumonia. Most dogs will recover in 2 to 3 weeks. Vaccinations are available, they are expensive, require a booster, and come with the usual risk of vaccinations (depends on your opinion of vaccinations in general). Your vet can test your dog for the virus.
Symptoms are typical flu-like symptoms: a cough, excess mucous, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite.
Overall, the vaccination is considered a “lifestyle” choice. If your dog is commonly exposed to other dogs, your vet will likely recommend the vaccination. If you work in the veterinary field, foster dogs, or are pet sitters, like us, it is recommended by vets to get your dog vaccinated.
Common vectors are shared food/water dishes, unwashed hands or clothing, and dog’s sniffing and licking each other (which they are wont to do).
Even asymptomatic dogs can transmit the virus. There is no evidence that the virus will transmit to people but it did mutate from an equine strain initially and has shown up in some cats. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep young, sick, old or pregnant people or other animals from possible exposure. Speak with your vet about your risks. Currently, the potential of transfer to humans or other species is considered low (but keep in mind, the AVMA said a 10% death rate was low).
Ask your vet if it is safe to bring your dog into their office. Some veterinarians have reported multiple cases of Canine Flu within their facilities although they have safety protocols in place. It is not uncommon for vaccinations to be given in cars in the vet’s parking lot or for a vet to set up an outdoor vaccination clinic.
To keep Canine Flu from spreading to our charges, Sit. Stay. Grow. practices sanitary methods to prevent contamination. We are on the look out for sick animals (we have turned down risky assignments) and we have alerted our customers. We are happy to report that many customers have asked their vet about the vaccination and/or are curtailing their dog’s contact with other dogs.