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Published: April 23, 2015

Many of our clients have asked about the threat of canine influenza to their dogs. In recent months, over 1,000 cases of canine influenza virus (CIV) have been confirmed in Chicago and northeast Illinois. Cases have also recently been confirmed in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio. CIV is a highly contagious respiratory virus with nearly all dogs that are exposed becoming infected within a few days after exposure. All ages and breeds are at risk, including dogs that are around other dogs (boarding, grooming, dog parks, pet-friendly stores, or contact with unknown dogs).

About 80% of exposed dogs will go on to develop signs resembling those of kennel cough: a persistent hacking cough, with or without nasal discharge, which can last two to three weeks and is unresponsive to antibiotics and cough suppressants. Some affected dogs (10%) go on to develop pneumonia and can become critically ill.

If your dog develops signs consistent with CIV please contact us right away. Canine influenza cannot be diagnosed solely by clinical signs because the clinical signs (coughing, sneezing and nasal discharge) are similar to those associated with all of the other respiratory pathogens and cannot be differentiated from them. Tests which will help us differentiate the various causative agents are available. It is important that we determine the specific cause whenever possible.

A vaccine is available that can help reduce the risk of infection. As with the human influenza vaccine, this vaccine may not completely prevent infection, but it can help significantly decrease clinical signs, severity of the disease and the spread of CIV infection. The vaccine is administered in dogs six weeks of age and older. Two vaccine doses are given two to four weeks apart, and then a booster is administered annually thereafter.

We recommend vaccination for all dogs, including boarding and grooming clients. Prepare to complete the vaccine series for your dog at least two weeks prior to entering a boarding or grooming facility, or dog show.

Please call us to schedule the vaccine series before potential exposure to your dog occurs. If you have any questions, we will gladly discuss this emerging threat to your dog with you.

For more information about canine influenza virus, please visit