There is a lot of talk about canine influenza lately. So, what is canine influenza? Influenza in dogs is caused by the canine influenza viruses (CIVs). The two known CIVs are H3N8 and H3N2. The outbreak currently in the news is due to the N3N2 strain of the virus. These viruses are extremely contagious, and dogs in close proximity of an infected dog can easily become sick from the virus.
Currently, there has been a large outbreak in the Marietta area. However, cases have been identified in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Georgia according to investigators at University of Wisconsin and University of Georgia.
Clinical signs range from subclinical infection, or mild fever and malaise to severe, life-threatening pneumonia; however, most clinically affected dogs have signs that are typical of kennel cough. Of approximately 1000 dogs recognized to be infected in the Marietta area, about five have died from the infection. Clinically, influenza infection is not distinguishable from kennel cough caused by other pathogens, such as Bordetella bronchiseptica. Thus, it is extremely important to get your dog tested if he presents with signs of kennel cough. University of Georgia has a panel specifically to identify most viruses that cause signs similar to kennel cough, including the influenza viruses.
There is no evidence that people can contract this virus. However, studies in Asia have shown limited transmission to cats. Whether this can happen with the strain currently involved in the U.S. outbreak is unknown. In Asia, the H3N2 strain that infected cats (and caused disease) was considered to be of avian origin. Current information about the U.S. H3N2 strain suggests that it might be of porcine origin.
Dogs affected with the influenza viruses need to be evaluated by a veterinarian to determine a treatment plan. The mild form requires minimal supportive treatment, as is the case with ANY mild upper-respiratory infection (kennel cough). Cough suppressants may be provided. Antibiotic therapy is restricted to high-risk patients. With the severe form, treatment is largely supportive. A rapid onset of disease (4-6 hours) is matched by an equally rapid improvement in clinical signs if treatment is instigated. Fluid support and broad-spectrum antimicrobials that cover both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria are generally required.
Vaccination is available for the H3N8 influenza virus, but no vaccination is available for the H3N2 virus. Contact your veterinarian to learn more about the vaccination
The easiest and most effective way to prevent fleas and ticks is by using a monthly flea and tick preventative. However, fleas thrive in warm environments, and they may lay dormant in your house; fleas and their eggs can be commonly found in carpeting, bedding, and furniture. If a flea infestation has already occurred in your house, preventives would be needed year-round.
To avoid a flea infestation, your pet must be on flea preventatives and be given the preventative consistently for six consecutive months. Many medications are in a combined form with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent in summer months, they can survive year-round in a home.
Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Many of these diseases have symptoms that are vague and/or mild until the disease has progressed. Many flea and tick preventatives starts killing ticks upon contact and will kill all four North American species of ticks (Deer tick, Brown dog tick, American dog tick and the Lone Star tick).
Heartworm disease is another dangerous condition to dogs and cats; although heartworm disease is preventable, it can be potentially fatal. With this disease, parasites attach themselves to the heart, and can cause symptoms such as persistent cough, fatigue, reduced appetite, and weight loss. We can help you protect your pet from heartworm disease with daily or monthly preventatives, including tablets and chewables, topicals, and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented.
Call us today to learn more about monthly preventatives, and how to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and heartworm.