I would like to address the Canine Influenza Vaccination to my patients. In 2015 there was an outbreak of Canine Influenza H3N8 variant. This started in Illinois and dogs became severely ill in Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida and some other states. Some dogs died as a result of this canine flu. A vaccine was made and it was recommended that high risk dogs e.g. dogs going to shows, agility, kennels, dog parks, boarding facilities be vaccinated with the vaccine. The initial vaccine series is 1 injection followed by a booster in 2-3 weeks then yearly.
A new Flu Variant H3N2 (yes, the same letters and numbers as the human flu BUT NOT THE SAME VIRUS) is presently affecting dogs in California. There are confirmed H3N2 canine flu cases in the San Francisco/San Jose area.
What does that mean for us here in Florida? As you all know, Florida is a melting pot and the place to be during the winter months. Dogs from all over the country and the world come to Florida during the winter to vacation, live, and work with their owners. Dogs compete in agility shows, dog shows, go to horse fairgrounds etc. These dogs frequently attend dog parks, boarding kennels, doggy day care facilities, groomers, veterinary offices etc.
Although there are NO CONFIRMED CANINE FLU CASES IN FLORIDA at this time, waiting for confirmed flu cases before we start to vaccinate will be too late. If and when the canine flu makes it to Florida this year, it will be too late to start vaccines in order to confer immunity for your pet.
My recommendations are that ALL DOGS that go to dog parks, groomers, kennels, dog shows, are kept on farms with lots of other dogs be vaccinated for H3N2 flu virus. H3N8 is no longer a threat and we are NOT vaccinating for this flu variant any longer.
What are the signs of canine flu? Coughing, fever, nasal and or ocular discharge, lethargy.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Gary Zinderman, DVM, CVA