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My dog is coughing. Is it kennel cough or something more serious?

Canine Influenza:

Recently I have received questions about canine influenza. The media has spread word about this very contagious disease.

What we know so far:

  1. There are two identified strains of canine influenza
  2. Outbreaks have occurred in 11 states with the newer strain and 23+ states with the older strain
  3. Most recently there was an outbreak in Florida.

More about Canine Influenza:

This disease is highly contagious. It is spread from the infected dog by coughing, sneezing and barking. The virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. It can live on hands for up to 12 hours and on clothes for up to 24 hours. Water bowls, leashes, blankets, toys can all serve as a source of infection if shared between infected and susceptible dogs.

Signs of infection may include: 

  • No signs at all (these dogs can still be carriers and infect other dogs)
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lack of appetite

Most dogs recover but there have been deaths due to pneumonia. Recovery may take two to three weeks.

Vetcetera now carries a vaccine for of the currently identified strains of canine influenza. This is not considered a core vaccine and is not for every patient.

There have been recent cases of canine influenza in Maryland, on the PA/NY boarder and Ohio. We are nearly surrounded by confirmed cases. With people traveling with pets for vacation, shows, competitions and the transport of rescue/shelter pets across state lines you can expect more cases.

I recommend the following criteria when trying to decide on this vaccine:

  • Does your dog compete? This may include agility, field trials, shows, etc.
  • Does your dog have frequent exposure to other dogs: boarded frequently, dog parks?
  • Does your dog travel with you on vacation?
  • Is your dog more at risk given age (young or old), health status or breed (pugs, bull dogs and other short-faced breed)?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, I recommend vaccinating.

The vaccine is initially two doses given three to four weeks apart and then a booster is given once year.

Some boarding facilities in our area require this vaccine. If I had a boarding facility I am not sure that I would require it but I would certainly recommend it. A boarding facility is a perfect environment for a major outbreak.

If you have any questions or concerns about canine influenza, please contact us.

Here are some additional resources on canine influenza and more:

www.vetcetera.com/pet-library/

www.akc.org/content/news/articles/canine-influenza-virus-notice/

We now offer In-Home Pet Euthanasia.