The Dog Flu – Should I Be Worried?

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There is a lot of speculation and worry going around about the latest Dog Flu outbreak in the Midwest. I am so lucky to have such informed and concerned pet parents! Before we all give ourselves ulcers, let’s take a minute to look at all the facts. My vet and I have been monitoring this situation for years now and have not yet changed our position on the dog flu vaccine. I am still not requiring that every dog have this vaccine.

The Cliff Notes version of this topic goes like this:

Should I be worried about this new Dog Flu outbreak? My answer is it deserves to be monitored, but it shouldn’t keep you up at night. It is important to note that NO CASES of the Dog Flu have been confirmed in the North Texas area at this time.

Should I get my dog vaccinated? Hold off on that for now. The vaccine currently available does NOT cover the strain that is infecting dogs in the Midwest recently.

For more information about how I came up with my Cliff Notes, please feel free to read on:

We at Smart Dog Dallas have been monitoring the news of the original strain of the disease (H3N8) for a couple of years now. We agree with our vet that it is not a significant threat in North Texas so far. A few cases came through 4 – 5 years ago and a confirmed case hasn’t been seen since. We believe (and our vet agrees) that mandating this vaccine for all dogs across the board is overkill at this time. In addition, the vaccine is only effective if administered in two doses, with 2-4 weeks in between. So, kennels that offer to administer this vaccine when the dog arrives are not actually protecting your dog (or others) during their stay.

What is different about this latest Dog Flu outbreak?

The new strain is H3N2 and most likely came from dogs in South Korea and China. It is a strain never-before-seen in the US and is not covered by the existing dog flu vaccine. The current vaccine only covers H3N8. Just like the human version of the flu vaccine, it only covers the strains that researchers feel will be most prevalent – it cannot cover everything and the researchers don’t always guess well. A new version of the vaccine that covers the H3N2 strain is 4 to 6 months away. This is part of the reason why I have concluded that I’m not going to require this vaccine at this time. It is important to note that NO CASES of the Dog Flu have been confirmed in the North Texas area.

Of course, I will continue to monitor this situation very closely. I hope that this information helps you make an informed decision about this disease, the vaccine, and your choice to send your dog to daycare with us. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, just call or text me!

If you are going to listen to anyone, listen to your vet! We sure are!


What is Dog Flu?

Dog Flu is a viral disease that is transmitted between dogs via nose-to-nose contact. It presents very similarly to other upper respiratory diseases like Kennel Cough, but the symptoms are usually more severe and there is the addition of a fever. The virus has an incubation period of about one to three days and the animal can be contagious for up to 14 days after exposure. Symptoms include red and/or runny eyes, sneezing and nasal discharge, dry cough, weight loss and fever. In most cases, symptoms will last 5-7 days and will usually go away on their own (the dry cough can stick around for as long as 4 weeks). A cough suppressant is typically prescribed and antibiotics may be used if there is a secondary infection. In some cases, however, the fever may be high enough to cause pneumonia and make a dog much, much sicker. Out of the 1,100 dogs sickened in the Midwest in the latest outbreak, 6 have died.

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