Canine Influenza Information and Prevention

civ

Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) in the U.S. is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It  is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through direct contact, nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs of any breed, age, and sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.

Unlike seasonal flu in people, canine influenza can occur year round. So far, there is no evidence that canine influenza infects people. However, it does appear that at least some strains of the disease can infect cats.

Canine influenza symptoms and diagnosis 

CIV infection resembles canine infectious tracheobronchitis (“kennel cough”). The illness may be mild or severe, and infected dogs develop a persistent cough and may develop a thick nasal discharge and fever. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite, and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian.

CIV can be diagnosed early in the illness (less than 4 days) by testing a nasal or throat swab. The most accurate test for CIV infection is a blood test that requires a sample taken during the first week of illness, followed by a second sample 10-14 days later.

Transmission and prevention of canine influenza

Dogs are most contagious during the two- to four-day incubation period for the virus, when they are infected and shedding the virus in their nasal secretions but are not showing signs of illness. Almost all dogs exposed to CIV will become infected, and the majority (80%) of infected dogs develop flu-like illness. The mortality (death) rate is low (less than 10%).

Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians in Pekin, IL strongly suggest the following items to significantly reduce the spread of canine influenza:

  • Avoiding taking your dog to dog parks, social events, and boarding. Avoid interaction with other dogs to minimize the possibilities of being exposed to the virus. 
  • Isolating ill dogs as well as those who are known to have been exposed to an infected dog and those showing signs of respiratory illness.
  • Good hygiene and sanitation, including hand washing and thorough cleaning of shared items and kennels, also reduce the spread of canine influenza.
  • Use disinfectants when cleaning around the house and make certain to safely sterilize dog supplies such as food bowls, dog toys, and bedding.

There are vaccines against the H3N8 strain of canine influenza, which was first discovered in 2004 and until 2015 was the only strain of canine influenza found in the United States. However, a 2015 outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago was traced to the H3N2 strain – the first reporting of this strain outside of Asia – and it is not known whether the H3N8 vaccine provides any protection against this strain. The CIV vaccination is a “lifestyle” vaccination, recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs – such as boarding, attending social events with dogs present, and visiting dog parks.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Vaccinations and Their Importance for Our Pets’ Health

Puppy Vaccination

Lucky for us, there are vaccines to help prevent many illnesses that affect dogs and cats and cats. Vaccinating your dog or cat has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help him live a long, healthy life. Not only are there different vaccines for different diseases, there are different types and combinations of vaccines.

Although vaccination has the potential to protect pets against life-threatening diseases, vaccination is not without its risks. Our veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic have heard been some controversy regarding the duration of protection and timing of vaccination, as well as the safety and necessity of certain vaccines. What does this all mean for your dog or cat? Vaccination is a procedure that has risks and benefits that must be weighed for every dog relative to his lifestyle and health.  Any of the Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians can determine a vaccination regime that will provide the safest and best protection for your individual pet. Here are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions regarding vaccines:

What Exactly Are Vaccines?

Vaccines help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which look like the disease-causing organism to the immune system but don’t actually cause disease. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, the immune system is mildly stimulated. If a dog or cat is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.

How Important Are Vaccines to the Health of My Dog or Cat?

Bottom line—vaccines are very important in managing the health of your dog or cat. That said, not every dog or cat needs to be vaccinated against every disease. It is very important to discuss with one of our veterinarians or veterinary technicians a vaccination protocol that’s right for your dog. Factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle. Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians highly recommend administering core vaccines to healthy dogs and cats.

What Are Core Vaccines for dogs?

Recently, the American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force published a revised version of guidelines regarding canine vaccinations. The guidelines divide vaccines into three categories—core, non-core and not recommended.

– Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans. Canine parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines by the Task Force.
– Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

What Are Core Vaccines for cats?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners divided vaccines into two categories-core and non-core. Core vaccines are considered vital to all cats and protect against panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calici virus, feline herpes virus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chylamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus.

One of the Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians can assist with questions regarding core vaccinations for your dog or cat.

Are Any Vaccines Required By Law?

Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Some areas require yearly rabies vaccination. Other areas call for vaccines every three years. An up-to-date canine rabies vaccination is a legal requirement. Be sure to keep proof of your dog’s rabies vaccines with his medical records.

How Often Should My Adult Dog or Cat Be Vaccinated?

Our veterinarians and veterinary technicians can best determine a vaccination schedule for your dog or cat. This will depend on the type of vaccine, your pet’s age, medical history, environment and lifestyle. Some adult dogs and cats might receive certain vaccines annually, while other vaccines might be given every 3 years or longer.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Vaccines?

Immunizations mildly stimulate an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This stimulation can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions. Another less common side effect is the development of immune mediated disease following vaccination.

That said, it is important to realize that vaccines have saved countless lives, and play a vital role in the battle against canine infectious disease. Additionally, rabies vaccinations have saved the lives of countless dogs and cats—and many humans as well. In some developing countries, hundreds of people die each year due to rabies contracted from dog or cat bites.

As with any medical procedure, there is a small chance of side effects. In most cases, the risks are much smaller than the risks of disease itself. But it is important to talk to your veterinarian about your dog or cat’s medical history before he is vaccinated.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Most dogs and cats show no ill effect from vaccination. Vaccine reactions may be minor and short-lived or require immediate care from a veterinarian. Clinical signs include:

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial swelling and/or hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

It is best to schedule your dog or cat’s appointment so that you can monitor him for any side effects following administration of the vaccine.

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog or Cat Is Having an Adverse Reaction to a Vaccine?

If you suspect your dog is having a reaction to a vaccine, call one of the Lange Animal Clinic’s veterinarians immediately.