We’ve been fielding a lot of questions and having a lot of conversations regarding the Canine Flu, trying to help people sort through what’s fact and what’s fear.  Here’s some of the questions and answers, but if you have others, please feel free to ask.

  1. What is the Canine Flu?  A virus.  It is a contagious respiratory disease among dogs.  There are two strains.  One is H3N8 and has been in the US for more than 10 years.  This is not the strain that has been active in the Midwest and was found in Atlanta last week. The virus currently circulating the country, and now found in Atlanta, is the H3N2 virus, never previously found in the US.
  2. What are the symptoms of the Canine Flu?  Fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy.  Some dogs may show more severe symptoms (generally because they have other respiratory infections); others may be infected/carriers and not show any symptoms at all.
  3. Will my dog die if he gets the Canine Flu?  Immune compromised dogs and puppies are at higher risk, but even then, the risk is very small (as of the time of this posting, less than 1%).  Most dogs fully recover in 2-3 weeks (more quickly if proper treatment is given immediately).
  4. How can my dog get the Canine Flu?  The virus is spread through respiratory secretions.  This can be direct dog-to-dog, but also through other surfaces (e.g., a dog coughs or sneezes on a park bench).  The virus is shed (making your dog the most contagious) in the first 2-5 days of infection.
  5. Can my cat get sick from this?  As of this posting, the H3N2 virus has not been found in cats in the US; however, in other parts of the world, the H3N2 has been found in cats in certain circumstances, and there is also evidence that it could affect guinea pigs and ferrets.
  6. Can the Canine Flu be transmitted to humans?  There have not been any cases of this occurring in the US or anywhere in the world.
  7. Can I get my dog vaccinated for the Canine Flu?  Yes and no.  There is a vaccine for the older strain H3N8.  This vaccine is not widely used because the H3N8 strain is rarely seen, and it is ineffective against a dog already infected.  But most importantly, there is no evidence that it is effective against the H3N2 virus currently circulating the country.  Getting this vaccine will not only NOT help your dog, but it will tax his natural immune system and make it more difficult for him to fight the current strain.
  8. Are antibiotics effective against the Canine Flu?  NO!  This is a virus.  Antibiotics are useless against a virus, any virus.  Antibiotics are used for bacterial infections, not viruses.  Even then, they should be used EXTREMELY sparingly, if at all.  We hear far too often about antibiotics being used “just in case”.  This will weaken your dog’s immune system even further.  If your dog has tested positive for a bacterial infection and you are choosing to allow the use of an antibiotic as opposed to choosing natural remedies, be sure that the antibiotic has been PROVEN to be effective against that specific bacteria (not a broad spectrum antibiotic).
  9. What are natural alternatives to helping prevent my dog from getting the Canine Flu (or treat him if he does)?  Boost his immune system.  There are several ways to do this – diet, herbs, homeopathic remedies (a vet in another state has helped several of his client’s dogs recover more quickly after being infected by using simple homeopathic remedies).  Each dog’s needs are going to be slightly different, so come talk to us about your dog.  Or we can refer you to a vet in the area that will take a more natural approach.
  10. How can we prevent the Canine Flu from spreading?  First and foremost, help spread the facts not the fear.  Second, if you believe your pet may be ill or may have been in contact with a dog who is, limit their exposure.  Don’t take them to the dog park, the pet store, grooming, daycare/boarding, etc.  If you choose to take them to the vet, let your vet know ahead of time so they can limit your dog’s exposure to other pets at their office.
  11. What is Fido’s Market doing to prevent the spread of the Canine Flu?  The same thing we’ve always done…sharing our knowledge and ensuring our high-standard cleaning and sanitizing protocols are followed.  We have also added two homeopathic remedies that have been highly effective in treating H3N2 to our product line so it easily available for you should you need it.
  12. How should I proceed?  With any decision regarding your pet, this is a personal one that you have to make based on your comfort level.  But it is imperative that you make these decisions based on facts, not fear.  We all know the media tends to like scary headlines.  Do your research the way we do – through reputable sources directly involved with this (like Cornell University).  The two things that we continue to stand behind 100% are: 1) BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM and 2) LIMIT EXPOSURE OF INFECTED ANIMALS.

As always, we’re here to help.

Additional information can be found here:

https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/news/civchicago.cfm

https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/docs/Canine_Influenza_Update_04122015.pdf

http://mediarelations.cornell.edu/2015/04/16/protect-your-pooch-from-new-flu/