What You Need to Know About the Canine Influenza Virus
What You Need to Know About the Canine Influenza Virus
Many of you remember the canine influenza virus (CIV) outbreak in Chicago in 2015. In May 2017, the H3N2 virus turned up again, first at two dogs shows in Florida and then spread through multiple states in the southeast. Cases have been confirmed in Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and they continue to appear in California. Before we dig into how you can guard your pet from CIV, let’s explore the facts about the virus.
What is CIV?
There are two viruses associated with CIV or “the dog flu” that your vet has probably spoken with you about – H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 has been around for at least 40 years, originated in horses, jumped species, and spread to dogs. In 2005, it began presenting more frequently in dogs. H3N2 originated in birds and was first detected in 2007 in dogs in South Korea. The first known case appeared in the US in April 2015 and is different from the human H3N2 flu virus. As of now, there is no evidence that either strain is transmittable to humans, although viruses adapt and change constantly. However, at this point, there is no real risk to humans. H3N2 is the strain currently spreading through the southeast.
What are the symptoms?
If a dog gets sick, it will typically contract the mild form of H3N2, but there is a severe form as well. Dogs suffering from the mild form may not have any symptoms at all but still be infected and therefore contagious. Visible symptoms can include runny nose or nasal discharge, along with a cough. The cough may be soft and moist or it may be dry, more closely representing that of traditional canine cough. Your dog may also be lethargic with a decreased appetite and have a mild fever (normal dog temperatures run between 101 and 102.5 degrees). With the severe form, a high fever (between 104 and 106 degrees) will develop along with laborious breathing. Complications are more common in puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with weaker immune systems or other health issues. In the news, it is common to read about dogs dying from H3N2. However, most dogs who get sick contract the mild form and an extremely small percentage actually pass away from the virus.
How is CIV spread?
When dogs are sick with H3N2, their cough can spread up to 20 feet through the air. These germs will land on anything in its path, including clothing, collars, leashes, food bowls, countertops, and flooring. If you are in this path, your clothing may carry the virus and your dog may be exposed. CIV can also be spread anywhere that dogs socialize. This includes dog parks, greenways, social events, neighborhood play dates, training classes, vet offices, sidewalks and grass on your daily walk, and yes, daycare and boarding facilities. This process mimics a virus spreading in children attending school or adults going to work. It does not mean the school or workplace is dangerous, it is simply the nature of socialization. Just like with humans, if you help your pet maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes high-quality food and regular exercise, they will be better able to fight off the virus.
How worried should I be?
While there is no cause for panic, your dog is at risk if she leaves the house, even if it is just to go to the vet or on your regular trip to the pet store. The virus can remain alive and contagious on hard surfaces for 48 hours, clothing for 24 hours, and hands for 12 hours.
What does Social Pet do to keep dogs safe?
At Social Pet, safety is always our number one priority. We clean with highly-effective, dog-safe products called Triple II and Eliminator supplied by Health Technology Professional Products Inc. that are formulated specifically for maintaining dog boarding and daycare facilities. We disinfect play yard surfaces, play equipment, and all boarding spaces are scrubbed and disinfected every single day even when we’re closed to the public over a holiday. Additionally, we have a UV filtration system within each of the three heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that circulate clean, filtered and conditioned air throughout the facility. All three HVAC systems run 24/7 allowing the UV filters to kill airborne viruses and bacteria floating through the air, which is comparable to what you would find in a hospital or veterinary hospital surgical center. If a dog in our care displays behavior that is atypical or concerning in anyway, we isolate the dog and call her parents immediately. While minor illness is a risk that comes with socialization, just as is the case with humans, we have employed industry best practices to mitigate this risk as much as possible.
What should I do?
Prevention and containment starts with pet parents. Talk to your vet about your dog’s lifestyle to decide if the H3N8 or H3N2 vaccines are right for her. Vaccines should be administered at least 2 weeks prior to bringing your dog to Social Pet for daycare or boarding for maximum protection. If you notice your dog coughing, sneezing, or displaying any of the above symptoms, keep your dog home and call your vet to determine the best course of action.
If an outbreak of any airborne illness were to occur, we would notify all Social Pet parents. Likewise, if your dog becomes sick that coincides with a stay at Social Pet, please let us know immediately. We are your partner in promoting the best possible health and overall well-being of your dog!