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Canine Influenza

April 2, 2019

 

  

Hi everyone,  Kylie here.

 

Some of you may know me, but I know not all will, so let me introduce myself. I am a Registered Veterinary Technician and have been working at Pine Ridge for about 4.5 years now. I absolutely love my job and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else! I want to welcome you to my very first blog post!  I know cold and flu season is coming to an end **fingers crossed, knock on wood**, and ironically enough, I have come down with a cold. But after attending an interesting lecture last week, I thought it was a good time to discuss Canine Influenza. 

 

As I know very well, owning a dog is a lot of work and responsibility. I myself have a very needy, 130 pound Bernese Mountain Dog named Ranger and a crazy little Havanese named Miles.  I like to think I keep up to date on pertinent information that can affect my pets, but last year I was blindsided when Canine Influenza broke out in Northumberland County. I was on maternity leave at the time and obviously had other priorities at that moment.  Last March was when a case of Canine Influenza was first confirmed in in our area. Up until that point I had not even given this disease a second thought. I’m sure I learned about it briefly in school, but it wasn’t something we spent a lot of time on. And it was definitely not something we talked to clients about in our routine exams.  Canine Influenza just wasn’t a concern in our area. That all changed very quickly!

 

I don’t want to bore you with a lot of medical talk, so I will do my best to keep the information relevant.  Canine Flu is similar to human Influenza in that there is more than one strain. The strain I will be talking about today is H3N2. This strain is believed to have originated in Asia and was first introduced to North America in 2015 in the United States. It was most likely brought over through the importation of dogs from South Korea.  It spread throughout the US fairly quickly causing many outbreaks. H3N2 was first identified in Canada in late December 2017, and made its way to Northumberland in March of 2018. Another similarity between human and canine flu is the transmission method.

 

Direct contact is the most common form of transmission, but indirect transmission (i.e., contaminated surfaces) is possible. H3N2 can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, and on clothing for 24 hours.  A dog that becomes infected with Canine flu can start shedding the disease anywhere from 2-8 days before they show any symptoms. This is the incubation period and is when the disease is most contagious. This can make it more difficult to prevent the disease from transmitting.  Dogs that become infected can carry the disease for up to 24 days!

 

Now that we’ve gotten some of the facts out of the way, let’s talk about our pets. When I learned about the Flu outbreak in Northumberland last March, I panicked. I called my friends at work; I asked if we had any confirmed cases, were my dogs at risk, how quickly could I get them vaccinated? The new mother in me jumped into action. After doing some more research I calmed myself down.  I had two young, healthy dogs that were a low risk for contracting the disease. They had been going to doggy daycare previously, but since having my daughter they were staying home with me.  Even if my dogs did contract the disease they would most likely be able to fight it off without any side effects.  I did however still get my dogs vaccinated as a precaution. The Canine Flu vaccine that is available is not a treatment for the disease nor is it prevention. The goal of the vaccine is to lessen the severity of the disease if your dog happens to contract it. Every time we discuss vaccinating a pet we always look into that specific pet’s risk factor. For Canine Flu in particular we look at the age of the pet, past health concerns, travel history, etc.  As you all know, each one of our pets is special, no two are alike, and we take their uniqueness into consideration when it comes to their health.

 

As of right now, Canine flu is not in Canada **cross your fingers, knock on wood**, but as we learned last year, it can become a large concern very quickly. Symptoms are not much different than in people, coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge and decreased appetite.  If you notice any of these symptoms please call us to set up an appointment, but we don’t want you to panic. Yes, these symptoms can point to Canine Flu, but they can also point to other issues, many of which are not of major concern.  If your dog frequents a dog park, daycare or boarding and training facilities, it would be wise to keep them away for a minimum of 28 days after the onset of symptoms to lessen the risk of further exposure.  Even if it isn’t Canine Flu, dogs can get other respiratory diseases that spread rapidly, such as Kennel Cough (Bordetella) and Parainfluenza, but those are topics for another day.

 

Please feel free to contact the clinic at 905-372-2721

 if you want to discuss your pet’s risk factors and if vaccinating against Canine Flu is right for your pet.

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