Recently, up to six cases of Canine Influenza have been reported in Montgomery County, two of which resulted in fatalities. While there have thus far been no confirmed cases in Baltimore County, there have been situations which raised suspicion for the disease.
Canine Influenza is a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory system of dogs. Infection with the virus can result in a cough, nasal discharge, fever, pneumonia, or in some cases, death. Canine Influenza is spread between dogs through direct contact, aerosolized nasal secretions, and contact with contaminated objects or people. Infected dogs can shed the virus for two days prior to showing any signs of illness, or shed the virus without becoming ill at all. Even if a dog looks healthy, it is still possible for them to pass the virus to other dogs.
Treatment is aimed at controlling secondary bacterial infections and providing supportive care. There is currently an influenza vaccine available, which requires two doses given two weeks apart and then boosters annually. Immunity to the virus is predicted two weeks after the second dose. It is important to note that the vaccine is designed to prevent severe illness, not infection with the virus. It is still possible for vaccinated dogs to spread the virus to others and possibly to show symptoms of illness.
What you can do:
◾Monitor your dog for respiratory signs, such as cough or nasal discharge. If you notice any respiratory signs in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately.
◾Separate your dog from other dogs at the first sign of respiratory symptoms.
◾Be aware of who your dog’s “friends” are, and whether they are at higher risk for the carrying virus (example: a new playmate recently adopted from the shelter).
◾Consider vaccinating your dog, especially if they are at higher risk for the virus.
◾Dogs that we recommend vaccinating:◾Dogs that travel often, especially those participating in agility, dog shows, and other events that place them in close proximity with other dogs
◾Dogs in the same household as or in frequent contact with higher risk dogs
◾Dogs in households that foster shelter dogs
◾Immunosuppressed dogs, such as those on long-term prednisone
◾Puppies and senior dogs
The doctors and staff at Paradise Animal Hospital are concerned about the recent outbreak of influenza and how it may impact your dog. We have the vaccine in stock, and are offering to vaccinate healthy dogs without an examination fee, provided they have been seen by the hospital within the past year and are not due for other vaccines.
If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Paradise Animal Hospital at (410) 744-4224.