While there have been many reports over the last several years of canine influenza, they have been sporadic and isolated and mostly on the East Coast or Midwest states. In the last few months there have now been reported cases in Northern and Southern California and Northern Nevada. While we do not feel that the Canine Influenza Vaccine should be a mandatory vaccine for all pets, we do want to make sure that all dog owners are educated and can make an informed decision. Here are the facts:
There are currently two strains of Canine Influenza out there, H3N8 & H3N2, we currently carry a vaccination for both. However, if your pet has been vaccinated in years past, it may have only been with the H3N8 vaccine and not the more recent strain. Please call us if your pet has been vaccinated and you would like to know which strain it was protected against.
Is it in Las Vegas? How does my pet get it?
Canine Influenza has not been reported in Las Vegas at this point. Many veterinarians feel that it is only a matter of time before we do see it, unfortunately our crystal ball is on the fritz so we cannot say for sure if and/or when we may see a case.
Much the same as the human influenza virus, it is spread through direct contact, shared dishes, or being nearby another pet that sneezes or coughs. Pets that have a more social lifestyle i.e. boarding, grooming, dog park visits or even passes a lot of dogs on walks around the neighborhood as the virus is airborne, are more at risk.
Is vaccination safe and effective?
The influenza virus, as with people, can mutate and vaccines require a healthy functioning immune system in the patient to be fully efficacious. So, while we do currently have a vaccine for both known strains, pets can still become ill even if vaccinated. However, a vaccinated pet that develops the illness usually has a much less severe case than a pet that has no immunity to the virus. If the virus mutates, a new strain could emerge that our pets are not protected against causing illness as well. While vaccination in general is very safe and reactions are rare, each pet should be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if the vaccine is warranted or safe for that pet.
For more information about the Canine Influenza Virus and its symptoms, please visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/canineflu/keyfacts.htm for reliable information about this illness.
What can Aloha Animal Hospital do?
For our clients that feel that their pet(s) are at risk for Canine Influenza and would like to vaccinate their pets, we are currently offering the following options in order to quickly and efficiently provide this service.
All pets receiving the influenza vaccine will need to booster the vaccine 2-4 weeks after the first vaccine to ensure a good antibody response. After the initial 2 booster series, the vaccine will only need to be given once annually for these strains.
For the booster vaccine visit, if your pet does not need to see the doctor for any other reason, we can schedule a nurse appointment, where your pet can be brought to the treatment room for a brief physical exam and be given the influenza vaccine. There will be no additional exam fee for this service, only the cost of the needed vaccination and vaccine biohazard fee.
For any concerns not answered in this brief statement, please feel free to call us at 702-567-5222 but please understand that we are fielding many questions on this situation and new developments may occur. We will answer your questions as quickly and accurately as possible but our staff may need to consult the doctor for the latest information before being able to answer your questions. Be patient, we want to help and we want it to be done concisely and correctly. Thank you for your understanding and as always for your trust in our veterinarians and staff to provide care for your pets.
The Careteam at Aloha Animal Hospital