Canine Influenza Advisory for Pet Owners and Veterinarians

April 10, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — News about multiple cases of canine influenza, particularly in the Chicago area, has prompted concern among Indiana veterinarians and pet owners.  The Indiana State Board of Animal Health reports receiving a number of anecdotal accounts of dogs from the Chicago area being diagnosed in veterinary clinics in Indiana. 

The clinical signs of canine influenza are similar to “kennel cough,” and the first symptom to appear is coughing.  Unlike kennel cough, however, canine influenza infects nearly every dog that is exposed, as most canines are naïve to the virus.  In its milder form, canine influenza causes a low-grade fever along with coughing and a runny nose, but ill animals may develop a fever as high as 107 degrees F, and more severe cases can result in pneumonia.  Mortality is believed to be low, from less than one percent to five percent.  There is a vaccine for canine influenza but it is not effective in animals that already have become infected. 

Because the disease is highly contagious, infected animals should be isolated.  The incubation time for the illness is only two to five days.  Avoiding exposure is the best means of prevention.  Vaccination can be effective but the vaccine must be administered before the animal is exposed. 

According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, dog owners should not panic, but be alert for evidence of clinical signs that would indicate the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian.  Normal healthy dogs, if exposed, likely will become ill but recover.  Very old, very young and immune-suppressed pets are at highest risk, if they become exposed.

The risk of exposure is quite low for most dogs under average circumstances.  Owners who travel frequently with their pets to infected regions of the country, particularly where any canines gather, such as dog shows and kennel areas, are advised to vaccinate their pets and to watch their animals closely for any signs of infection after a trip.

More information for pet owners and veterinarians is available from the American Veterinary Medical Association at https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/CanineInfluenza.aspx; and from the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/canine/index.htm.

Writer: Kevin Doerr, pvmnews@purdue.edu


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