Puppy ExamHere in the Chicagoland region, the spring season has brought yet another canine flu outbreak of the H3N2 strain. Because the virus is so contagious, unvaccinated dogs and dogs who have not been previously infected have an estimated 80% chance of becoming ill when exposed to Canine Influenza Virus (CIV).

Understandably, many owners are asking how they can protect their pets from acquiring this rapidly spreading virus.

What is H3N2?

Although CIV has been around for more than a decade, the more recent strain (H3N2) was detected in Chicago in 2015. Originating from an avian strain of influenza, the virus spread to dogs throughout Asia (and cats, although to a lesser extent).

As with any new virus or mutation, exposed canines are susceptible since they have not built up an immunity to the illness. Symptoms of the H3N2 strain are very similar to those of the human flu and include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue

For most healthy dogs, symptoms are mild to moderate and recovery is expected. However, the risk of pneumonia is a concern for senior dogs and those with a pre existing illness or compromised immunity.

What to Expect During the Canine Flu Outbreak

We urge all pet guardians to have their dogs vaccinated. The H3N2 strain can be inoculated against with a serious of two shots. This vaccine is imperative not only to protect the health of your animal companion, but also to reduce the risk of an epidemic.

At Springbrook Animal Care Center, we are also requiring that all canines be vaccinated against H3N2 before receiving any grooming, boarding, or surgical services. While we recognize this many be inconvenient, this decision was made to protect the health of all pets in our community.

Because spring is such a popular time for vacations and travel, we’ve created an overview of our Pet Paradise boarding requirements to assist you in your planning.

As a pet owner, you can reduce the spread of CIV by staying current on the status of the virus and by avoiding places with high concentrations of animals. This includes parks, pet supply stores, and kennels that do not require the vaccination.

In light of this canine flu outbreak, the best things you can do is to stay informed and to practice preventive measures. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are in doubt about your pet’s vaccination needs.