It’s flu season again, but did you know that our dogs and cats are susceptible too?
All of us at AIMSS are interested in keeping you and your pets safe. If you watch the news you have heard about the flu, both human and canine. The flu is a clinical illness secondary to one of the influenza viruses. Influenza viruses that cause disease in humans are named after 3 core proteins A, B, and C. Influenza A viruses are further described by their common surface proteins and get labels such as H1N1. Influenza A viruses are responsible for most outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics in the world. It is also responsible for the recent canine influenza outbreak and the terrible flu season California is experiencing in general.
We at AIMSS wanted to take a minute to talk with you about how this virus can effect your pets.
What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by two known Influenza A viruses, H3N2 and H3N8.
Is there a cat influenza virus?
There is no specific cat influenza virus but cats have been found to be infected and have disease caused by influenza viruses acquired from other pets and people.
How is canine influenza spread?
Similar to the human flu, canine flu is spread by aerosolized droplets from coughing and sneezing and by contact with recently contaminated surfaces.
What does canine influenza look like in my pet?
Signs of this infection may non existent to severe. Approximately 20% of all dogs infected never show clinical signs. The most common signs include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, fever, and nasal discharge. The rare infection can lead to severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization. Deaths have been reported with a fatality rate of less than 10%.
Can I get my dogs flu?
No, to date there has been no evidence to support transfer of canine influenza to a human. However, the Influenza A virus is a rapidly mutating virus and therefore is monitored closely by the CDC for this potential.
Can my cat get my dogs flu?
Yes, there has been reported transfer of canine influenza to cats. So if you have both cats and dogs in your home and your dog has been diagnosed with the flu be sure to keep your cat separate and clean all common areas that your dog could have contaminated with a dilute bleach or cleaning solution.
Can I give my flu to my cat or dog?
Yes, there have been a few reports of confirmed transfer of Influenza A H1N1 to cats, horses, and a dog. This is rare, but if you are sick with the flu, be sure to wash your hands before petting your pet and avoid sneezing or coughing on them.
What do I do if my pet is sneezing and coughing?
Arrange to be seen by your veterinarian. But it is very important that you let the staff know at the time you make your appointment that your pet is coughing or sneezing. They will arrange to bring you into a room that can keep your pet isolated and is less likely to infect others.
Your veterinarian will want to run some tests after they perform a physical exam. You may note that your veterinarian wears a gown and gloves to examine your pet. This is so they do not cross infect another pet.
How can we confirm a Canine Influenza infection?
There are currently multiple tests available to see if your pet has been exposed to the influenza
1. IDEXX Respiratory Disease Real PCRTM Panel (Comprehensive) – Canine – will detect Influenza A viruses (including H1N1, H3N8, H7N2) and H3N2
2. Cornell University offers a Canine Influenza H3N8 and H3N2 antibody test and PCR testing. The antibody test is best run as a paired sample: one during time of infection and one test sent in 2-3 weeks later.
3. Antech Canine Respiratory disease profile: will detect H3N8
If your pet is showing signs of pneumonia radiographs of their chest will be recommended and blood work to assess their white blood cell count and general health should be run.
Is there a vaccine to protect my pet?
There is a vaccine for the dog. It is administered under the skin and requires a booster approximately 2-4 weeks later. It will start protecting your dog approximately 2 weeks after injections. This vaccine protects agains H2N3 and H3N8, the two isolated influenza viruses found in dogs.
Similar to our flu vaccine, this vaccine must be boostered yearly and it is still possible for your dog to get the flu but it should be milder.
There is currently no vaccine for influenza in cats.
What if my pet is on medications that affect their immune system?
Many of our pets in the Bay Area are under treatment for chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, immune mediated disease, or inflammatory diseases and are on medications that can reduce their immune response. For these pets, especially, it is important that you take the following steps:
– avoid all group play areas
– know all pets that your dog interacts with and ensure that they are vaccinated and healthy
prior to interactive play sessions
– do not board or kennel them
– avoid grooming facilities
– do not go on walks or have interactive play time with any dog that is coughing, sneezing, or has recently had any sort of respiratory problems.
What do I do if there is an outbreak in my area?
If an outbreak is occurring in your area it is important to avoid large group play sessions, kenneling and boarding, and busy dog parks until the occurrence of infection has slowed.
Keep cats indoors and keep separate from any one in the house that is displaying signs of the flu. If you own a pet that is coughing and sneezing it is very important that you do not bring them to group or interactive areas for at least 3 weeks past resolution of the cough or sneeze. Viruses can be shed for several weeks after signs of infection.
Can I get rid of the virus or clean the virus from my home?
Yes, almost all common cleaners will eliminate the flu virus. Make sure the cleaner has good contact time and the area is thoroughly wiped. The flu virus does not last long in the environment, it remains on hard surfaces for approximately 24 hours.
Are there good resources for me to learn more?
Yes, if you would like to read further please try these websites:
Key Facts about Canine Influenza (Dog Flu) | Seasonal Influenza (Flu …
Canine Influenza – UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine
We hope the information contained here has been informative and helpful. AIMSS looks forward to continued service in our community. Wishing all a safe and healthy Winter 2018!