Due to the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza in Chicago, and at least one reported case of flu in Wisconsin, Westgate Pet Clinic is now recommending that all dogs that go to dog parks, kennels, and dog shows be immunized against Canine Influenza.
It is important to know that the flu outbreak in Chicago is a different variant of influenza virus then the available canine flu vaccine. Unlike the human influenza virus which mutates quickly and changes almost every year, the canine influenza virus in the United States has been stable as type H3N8 for years. The Chicago canine flu outbreak was caused by type H3N2, a variant that has not previously been seen in the United States. We are hopeful that the H3N8 flu vaccine will offer some immunity to the H3N2 virus.
Here are some important facts about Canine flu:
- The majority of dogs exposed to the flu virus will not get sick. However, dogs that become ill can have severe complications, including life threatening pneumonia. Very young, very old, and immune compromised dogs are at higher risk of complications.
- Flu is transmitted through respiratory secretions. The flu virus can live in the environment for up to 24 hours. The Canine flu is not contagious to people.
- As of this writing, there have been no documented cases of Canine flu in Minnesota.
- The vaccine is available at Westgate Pet Clinic. Initially two vaccines are given three weeks apart, then annually if indicated. Your dog does not have full immunity until 3 weeks after the booster vaccine has been given.
- Because the canine influenza vaccine available targets H3N8, and the Chicago strain of flu is H3N2, the vaccine may not be fully effective, but ideally will provide some cross immunity.
- Like any vaccine, the flu vaccine can cause symptoms of lethargy or malaise. In addition, there are some pets that can develop the flu, even if they are vaccinated.
- The flu vaccine should not be given if your dog is currently ill, or less then 8 weeks of age. Also, if your dog has been vaccinated with any other vaccine, you must wait 2 weeks before giving the flu vaccine.
- The "Kennel Cough" vaccine does not vaccinate against Canine Influenza. (This vaccine targets the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica.) The parainfluenza vaccination included in the distemper combination vaccine is for a different disease and does not vaccinate against Canine Influenza.
History of the breed:
The English Bulldog is typically the most docile of creatures, even though the history of the breed is quite gruesome and dramatic.First mentioned in the literature around 1500, the bulldog was bred to fight bulls in the “sport” of bull baiting. Bull baiting entails setting loose dogs onto a tethered bull and making wagers over which dog could grab the bull by the nose and pin it to the ground. This “sport” is not only cruel to the bull, but many dogs were also severely maimed or killed during the process. Thankfully, bull baiting was made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835.