What is canine influenza?

Canine Influenza (also called CI or dog flu) is a disease caused by a highly contagious virus. It is easily spread between dogs by direct contact, nasal secretions (barking, coughing, or sneezing), contaminated objects, and people handling different dogs. Two strains of CIV (canine influenza virus) have been identified. One is H3N2, and the other is H3N8. There is no evidence that CIV is transmissible to people at this time.

What are the signs of influenza?

Signs of infection of CIV can include a persistent cough, fever (104-105 degrees), thick nasal discharge, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite. Not all infected dogs show signs of illness. Most dogs recover within 2 to 3 weeks. Some dogs develop a secondary bacterial infection that may lead to pneumonia. Fortunately, very few dogs have died after contracting CI.

How is CI spread?

Dogs of any age or breed are at risk of contracting CI. The virus is shed in nasal secretions and spread via coughing or sneezing. The virus can also be carried or found on contaminated objects, clothing, people, and surfaces. Dogs in kennels and shelters are at higher risk of catching CI, but it can be found anywhere that dogs have contact with each other or share common spaces, objects, and equipment. Dogs are most contagious 2 to 4 days post-infection. During that time they are shedding the virus, but have shown signs of disease yet. Because of the high risk of infection, we are asking anyone that comes to our hospital with a coughing or sneezing dog to leave them in the car upon arrival. Either come inside without your dog or call us from your car for further instructions.

How can we prevent CI?

Good hygiene is very important to prevent the spread of CI. Thorough hand washing and disinfection of shared surfaces are critical to preventing the spread of CI. Dogs with a known CIV infection should be isolated from other dogs for 7 to 21 days depending on the strain. There is also a vaccine available. The vaccine we carry helps to protect dogs from both strains of CIV. Initially, dogs need two boosters 2-4 weeks apart. Then annual vaccination is recommended. We would be happy to discuss whether or not this vaccine is appropriate for your dog.

Canine influenza is highly contagious and almost all dogs that become exposed to CIV will become infected. Approximately 80% show signs of illness. The good news is that the death rate of CI is less than 10% according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. If you have any questions about canine influenza, please contact us by calling us at 309-981-5112 or send a message via Facebook.


The Staff at Prairie Animal Hospital
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