VCA Wakefield Animal Hospital
By Sarah Norton
Published: May 14, 2014

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Canine influenza is a relatively new emerging infectious disease caused by a ”flu” virus. In dogs, a highly contagious strain of the influenza A virus known as H3N8 causes respiratory illness. Other strains of the influenza A virus are responsible for causing infections in birds, horses, pigs, and people.

We don’t want you to be alarmed, but we do want you to be informed. Just like human flu, canine influenza is highly contagious. In fact, unless a dog has already had the illness and recovered, virtually every dog exposed to the virus will become infected. This is because the virus is relatively new, and dogs have no natural immunity to it. While 100% of dogs are susceptible to influenza infection, about 80% of infected dogs will show varying degrees and signs of infection. Symptoms include coughing and sneezing that can lead to pneumonia and in rare instances even death if not treated.  Brachycephalic breeds (those that have a shortened broad face with smaller nostrils such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shi-Tzu, etc.) and those with underlying health concerns are at a higher risk for illness.

We began recommending the Canine Influenza Vaccine as soon as it became available in 2009. Like human flu vaccine, the Canine Influenza Vaccine may not completely prevent pets from infection, but if symptoms appear, the severity of illness is greatly reduced. Therefore, we recommend the vaccination for all dogs.

Recent news reporting on the Massachusetts outbreak can be seen in the Newburyport News and on CBS.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, please contact Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital at 781-932-5802 or VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in Weymouth at 781-337-6622.