The Importance of the Flu Vaccine for Pets in Florida
Like humans, your pet can contact the flu and it can be very serious for your vet. In June, the University of Florida reported 25 active cases of pets hospitalized for the H3N2 flu virus at their facility. This amount of active cases is considered an epidemic level for one location. The H3N2 influenza virus is a new strain of the virus for almost ALL dogs. Hence, if a dog is exposed they have no built up immunity to the strain and are almost 100% guaranteed to get the virus. At a large dog show earlier this year in Tallahassee, over 230 dogs were stricken with the flu(almost 100% of the dogs that were at the show) within 7 days of the end of the show. Four deaths were reported and average of 10 days hospitalization was required in the dogs requiring hospitalization.
What types of pets are at risk:
- Dogs that are exposed to the virus are almost at a 100% chance of contracting the virus.
- Symptoms of the virus include:
- Nasal Discharge
- Weight Loss
- What type of pets are at risk:
- Puppies and older immunocompromised dogs
- Dogs that frequently have contact with other dogs such as at boarding facilities, groomers, day cares, and dog parks.
- H3N2 CIV can cause respiratory infections in cats too. The cats start sneezing and have nasal discharge but usually do not cough.
- The time of contraction of the virus until symptoms show up is 2-7 days. Dogs can be a carrier of the virus during this time and show now signs. They can continue to be a carrier from 4 weeks.
- It is best to isolate your pet for at least 4 weeks from the first sign of the symptoms arising if your pet is confirmed to have the virus.
Should I get the flu vaccine for my dog?
- Vaccination for the flu does not eliminate the risk of contracting the virus.
- Vaccinated dogs may still develop mild symptoms, but have a much lower risk of potentially life-threatening complications.
- Vaccinated have a greater chance of being a carrier of the virus for a shorter period of time.
Can I get the flu virus from my dog or vice versa?
No, it is virtually impossible to pass a human strain flu virus to your pet and vice versa.
What if my dog has received the flu vaccination before?
- The bivalent vaccines is new for 2017 and covers the H3N8 and H3N2 virus. If your pet was vaccine for the flu prior to 2017, you should check with your veterinarian as to which strains were given at that time. Then make a decision.
What should I do if my pet is experiencing flu symptoms?
First, do not panic. Your dog may have a respiratory infection caused by other viruses that are not the H3N2 flu virus. This can only be determined by a diagnostic test performed by your veterinarian.
Follow the following steps when symptoms arise:
- Call your veterinarian. Do not go to the clinic without calling first. Your dog may have a very contagious infection that can spread to other dogs.
- Have the following information ready for your veterinarian:
- Your dog’s symptoms and when they started.
- If your dog has recently been exposed to other dogs such as at a dog park, grooming facility or other event in the last week.
- If you remember your dog being around any coughing dogs in the last week.
Your veterinarian will then provide specific next steps on seeing and treating your pet.
Dr. Alex and the staff of Pet Xpert Animal Clinic want to ensure that your pet is safe. We currently have limited quantities of the flu vaccine available at the clinic. If you feel your pet will be in environments where they will be at risk to being exposed to other dogs, consider calling our office and scheduling an appointment to get the vaccination. If you have any additional questions or want to schedule your appointment, we can be reached at 407-886-PETS(7387).