If you’re a pet owner or even just a dog lover, you have probably heard the news about the outbreak of an Asian strain of canine influenza (H3N2) that is sweeping across the Midwest. While there has only been one confirmed case in the Madison, WI area, it has caused us to take a strong stance on helping to minimize any spread of this virus to our guests. In early April we sent out an email along with sharing information on our social sites to notify all of our guests of some swift changes that were going to take place to help us keep your pet safe when they visited the Dogwoods. We realized that this also left many clients with quite a few questions. Thus, we wanted to take this opportunity to address many of the concerns you may have regarding canine influenza and how it can affect your furry friends!
What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza (H3N8 US strain) is a virus that is similar in character to the flu in humans. This flu usually comes with the following symptoms:
- Coughing (similar to that of Kennel Cough)
- Clear nasal discharge that progresses to a thick, yellowish-green mucus
- Rapid/difficult breathing
- Loss of appetite
The strain that is affecting most of the Midwest is a strain that is predominant in areas of Korea and is very new to the US. If Canine Flu is caught and treated right away the death rate is really quite low. However, it can bring about other infections that could result in death if not treated right away. For example: due to the weakend immune system, a pet could also develop pneumonia and pneumonia has been known to cause death if untreated.
Regarding your risk to the flu? There is no proven record that suggests the virus can be transmitted to humans, although it can cause illness and respiratory infections in cats.
How is Canine flu spread?
The virus is spread through close contact with other dogs. Typically this occurs when there is the sharing of nasal secretions or saliva; like when two dogs rub noses or share a chew toy. However, it should be noted that the virus does not live long in the environment and most dogs only contract it from being in close proximity to infected pets.
While any dog can catch the virus, it is those who are around a lot of dogs and much like in humans, elderly or young pups are at a higher risk.
Should you vaccinate your pet?
The simple answer to this is, yes, especially if you are intending to send your pup to dog daycare or dog boarding for any period of time. Of course, much like parenting, you know your pet best and know what is best for them. However, be aware that some boarding or daycare establishments, much like The Dogwoods, may not allow your pet to visit without proof of vaccination. Additionally, you should be weary of any facility that is not requesting vaccination on behalf of the safety of their guests.
We additionally agree that the virus that is infecting pets across the Midwest is not of the traditional strain in the US and thus there is no specific vaccination at this time for the H3N2 strain. However, some form of vaccination is better than no vaccination when helping your pet fight off any sort of nasty virus or infection.
How can I protect my pet?
While we are requesting that guests receive the vaccination; along with us taking steps at our home-style environment to ensure the safety of our guests, there are also a few steps that you can take to decrease the risk of your pet getting the canine flu:
- Get your pet vaccinated ASAP. It is a process and they can still be at risk for two weeks after the second booster
- Make sure your pet maintains proper nutrition to keep their immune system up
- Make sure they have a quiet, peaceful place to sleep so they can get plenty of rest
- Limit the number or dogs your pet comes in contact with
- Do not take your pet to multiple boarding facilities. Each place can have different practices (or none) regarding the canine flu and this can greatly increase risk
- Do not take your pet to the dog park and if you do, make sure they stay on a leash or are close to you to control distance from other dogs who may be contagious.
- Monitor your pet closely and if you notice any changes in behavior or any symptoms mentioned above, get them to the vet promptly.
We intend to regularly monitor this situation until the outbreak has fully passed through the Midwest. We are actively making sure common areas are kept extra clean and holding true to being a place that caters to a limited number of guests. By doing so, we are minimizing the opportunity for the virus to spread while still providing your pet a place to play and socialize with their pals.
Should you have any questions we missed in this blog, would like to know more information about canine flu or our home-style environment, please reach out to us on our Contact Page.
What are your thoughts? Do you think this will pass over or do you think it will become a bigger issue for area pets? Share your comments below.