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By Julia Newman
Published: October 30, 2009

Many of our clients have asked about the threat of canine influenza to their dogs. 
The canine influenza virus (H3N8) is believed to have come from the equine influenza A virus. It started causing disease in dogs in 2004, and was recognized as a new emerging disease in dogs in 2005. The majority of dogs exposed to the virus will become infected and get symptoms of coughing, nasal discharge, and fever. In severe cases, dogs can get pneumonia. A small percentage of dogs will die from the disease. There have been no known cases of people getting sick from this virus.
As a respiratory virus, it is spread from dog to dog by contact with respiratory secretions, contaminated objects, and contaminated people. Dogs are at risk of infection if they are in contact with other dogs or with people or surfaces that are in contact with potentially infected dogs.
There is a new vaccine for canine influenza that has been conditionally approved. It is given as a series of two injections, 3-4 weeks apart. The vaccine has been shown to be safe and to reduce the severity and duration of disease in dogs. In general, we recommend vaccination for those dogs that get the Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine, as the risk factors for the two diseases are similar.

Please schedule an appointment today with one of our VCA veterinarians to discuss this emerging threat to your dog.