At Pet Vet Animal Hospitals, we know you trust us to protect your pets and we take that responsibility very seriously. As such, we feel it necessary to make you, the local dog community and dog lovers, aware of a potential life threatening, yet preventable, virus threatening your pet in our area.
During the past few years there have been outbreaks of a severe new flu virus in dogs called Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). To date, the outbreaks have primarily been in Chicago and the South East United States, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana, with North Carolina recording two deaths. This virus is migrating west–toward us.
The Houston area has had two confirmed cases of CIV in the past month. While this does not constitute an epidemic, it is serious enough that our doctors want to address the issue before it becomes one.
This virus is especially dangerous because a sick dog can be contagious for up to four days before showing symptoms. Twenty percent of infected dogs show no symptoms at all, but can still spread the virus to others for up to a month. Simply avoiding other dogs that appear sick does not offer any protection from this virus.
Symptoms of CIV can be high fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, lethargy, and loss of appetite. There are two strains of the disease: H3N8 and H3N2. Depending on the strain a dog contracts, it may need to be treated and isolated up to four weeks. The mortality rate is below 10%.
Prevention is the best way to avoid an epidemic in our community. There is now a vaccination that is available to protect dogs from both the H3N8 and the H3N2 strains of CIV. An initial vaccine is followed in three weeks by a second booster. Both are required for proper immunity. Pet Vet Animal Hospitals and the manufacturer of the vaccine are confident of its efficacy. Should a dog contract the virus after proper vaccination, the manufacture will cover treatment at no charge to our clients.
Ideally, all dogs should be vaccinated against CIV, however, some dogs are at a higher risk. Pet Vet feels that it is imperative these “High Risk Dogs” be properly protected by the vaccine.
Your dog is at High Risk if they go to:
- Day Care
- Dog Parks
- Dog Shows
- Dog Friendly Shops and Hotels
- Anywhere large numbers of other dogs gather.
Just as in humans’ cases, older dogs and dogs with chronic diseases should also be vaccinated since they cannot fight off the effects of the disease. Many boarding facilities now require vaccination against CIV to be admitted. This is especially important if your family is considering boarding your dog while on a summer vacation. Keep in mind that you have to wait three weeks from the first vaccination until you receive the booster vaccine for full protection. Plan ahead.
Bottom line, no one can predict if Houston will have an outbreak or an epidemic. Thankfully, we have not so far, but we cannot predict if or when our luck might run out. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our pets and the pet-loving community we share. The best way to do this is to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus simply by vaccinating your dog as soon as possible. If you have any questions regarding CIV, vaccination protocol, or you would like to make an appointment, please call us today at (281) 879-PETS. Pet Vet Hospitals is here to protect and care for your pets!