We have had several phone calls from concerned clients regarding the canine flu outbreak in the Chicago area. We have not seen any cases of canine flu in our offices. The virus that caused the outbreak in Chicago is an avian influenza virus that adapted to infect dogs. There is not a vaccine for dogs available for this strain of influenza currently. It is unlikely that a local dog that has not traveled to the Chicago area or hasn’t been exposed to dogs from that area would contract canine influenza.
There are many other conditions which may cause coughing or respiratory infection in dogs such as kennel cough and heartworm disease. If your dog is coughing, has discharge from the eyes or nose, has a decreased energy level, or isn’t eating and drinking normally, you should schedule an appointment for your pet to be examined by a veterinarian. Please don’t assume your dog’s illness is due to canine flu and they will get over it on their own.
Kennel cough is a contagious canine respiratory illness that can be caused by several different viruses and bacteria. Symptoms are similar to the flu including coughing and sore throat. Most cases are self- limiting and will resolve in 10-14 days. Typically dogs diagnosed with kennel cough are treated with antibiotics to prevent the infection from progressing to pneumonia.
Missing a diagnosis of heartworm disease can be fatal for a dog. We recommend all dogs be tested for heartworm disease and receive heartworm prevention year-round. We also offer a 6-month injection for heartworm prevention called Proheart 6. This is a great alternative for owners who are too busy to remember to give the heartworm prevention once monthly or for pets who won’t take oral medications easily. Please contact our office for more information on heartworm disease and prevention, we would be glad to go over the options with you and determine what is best for your pet.
Below is a Canine Influenza fact sheet from the American Veterinary Medical Association listing the most current facts regarding influenza in dogs. (Click the link below to view a larger image).