Over the last few days there’s been a growing buzz over canine influenza in the Midwest. It’s estimated that over 1,100 dogs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana have already been infected, and six have died. Officials in Minnesota say it’s inevitable that it’s heading for their state, so especially in an environment where more and more dog owners are traveling with their pets, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes an issue in the Des Moines area. Although there’s no cause for panic, health officials are encouraging owners to take steps to protect their dogs, including urging owners to temporarily avoid areas where dogs congregate, such as dog parks.
And what makes it even more of a contagion issue is that it doesn’t require dog to dog contact for it to be transmitted. Although it’s not a danger to humans, if they came into contact with a diseased dog they can carry it on their person and on their clothing home to their own dog.
Canine influenza is most dangerous to dogs with weak immune systems, including very young and older dogs. There is no current vaccine for this new strain of flu, which is believed to have originated in China, but veterinary pharmacological experts believe that at worst the H3N8 vaccine that’s currently available will lessen the effect of the H3N2 virus and at best it will block it altogether. None of the six dogs who died had received the vaccine. We do have the H3N8 vaccine available at Fleur Pet Hospital. If you wish to have your dog inoculated, please call us to make an appointment.