Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Central Florida’s Canine Influenza Scare

In case you haven’t heard, canine flu has reared its ugly head in Central Florida. According to the Orlando Sentinel, health officials confirmed cases of the H3N2 virus that originated at 2 dog shows, one in Deland and one in Perry, Ga. Both shows were held in mid-May. All of the dogs that tested positive were either at the show or were exposed to dogs who had been at one of those shows. Since then, there have been other reported cases of canine flu, most notably at The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, at their Conroy Road location. As a result, they have temporarily stopped all adoptions.

What is canine influenza?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), canine influenza is a contagious viral infecting dogs and cats. There are presently 2 strains affecting dogs in the US: H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 was the first strain identified in Florida in 2004 and found in racing greyhounds in south Florida. H3N2 was first identified in March 2015 in dogs in the Chicago area. Now, as of May 2017, this strain is showing up in dogs throughout the southeast, Texas and Illinois.

How is it transmitted?

Canine flu spreads to other dogs when they come into contact with dogs who have the illness, or from the droplets infected dogs expel when they cough or sneeze. These virus particles can remain airborne, and settle on surfaces, further infecting dogs who come into contact with these surfaces. Humans can also help spread the illness by touching something like an infected door knob, and handling dogs after.

Dogs who frequent dog parks, participate in doggie daycare at large facilities, or board at large facilities where they come into contact with larger numbers of dogs are at increased risk.

What is the incubation and transmission period?

The period of time from exposure to the onset of symptoms is usually 2 to 4 days or even less for H3N2. The potential for transmission can be up to 24 days.

What are the symptoms and signs?

The most common signs are those of a mild upper respiratory infection. These include

More serious symptoms include

Dogs who are at higher risk for a more severe case are those that are

How do you treat canine influenza?

There is no specific treatment. Just like with human flu, the focus is to provide supportive care until the infection runs its course. If there is evidence of a secondary bacterial infection (such as fever, moist cough, nasal discharge) antibiotics are usually prescribed. Dogs with serious illness such as pneumonia usually require hospitalization in case IV fluids and other treatments need to be administered.

What about vaccination?

Depending on who you talk to, vaccination may or may not be appropriate for your dog. Vaccination against H3N2 will help control the length and severity of the symptoms should your dog get canine flu. It will not prevent him from getting it. Many holistic veterinarians don’t believe in dogs getting the vaccine because they are proponents of “less is more” with respect to all vaccines. Many traditional veterinarians and larger boarding/daycare facilities are now requiring it.

Vaccination is a 2 step process – an initial vaccine, followed by a booster 3 weeks after the initial vaccine.

What have we done at Rocky’s Retreat?

We are strongly recommending dogs get the vaccine, especially very young, older, or immune compromised dogs, but at this time we are not requiring. We were surprised to learn that many of our clients, especially our daycare dogs, have already been vaccinated.

We have also added an extra disinfectant step to our already thorough cleaning protocol, just to be safe. As a small facility, our air flow exchange with fresh outside air is higher than a larger facility. We can open outside doors regularly which brings in fresh air. We are doing our best to advise our clients, so they know what to look for. Because we are a small facility and turn dogs out in very small groups, we believe our risk is reduced.

And as always if any of our clients have any concerns, we will do our best to address those concerns.