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Canine Influenza

Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary’s Perspective of Canine Influenza:

Canine influenza is a contagious respiratory infection transmitted directly from dog-to-dog through nasal secretions, coughing, and/or sneezing. The first strain of canine influenza was noted in Florida in 2004, and thus, influenza exposure became a concern for dogs who lived in or traveled to the southern United States. Many years passed before a second strain of canine influenza emerged in the United States. In 2015 a new strain of influenza emerged in Chicago. Interestingly, this new strain in Chicago was found to be related to a strain from Asia (not Florida!).

As the Chicago strain of canine influenza crept into Michigan from Chicago in 2015, Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary (MAS) elected to protect the dogs at MAS from a potential outbreak. Mackenzie’s is a home along the way and sanctuary for young dogs, old dogs, healthy dogs, and dogs with chronic problems such as cancer, kidney disease, allergies, etc. Due to the many health concerns of our population, close living quarters of the kennel environment, and potential long term housing of our sanctuary dogs, every dog at MAS receives an annual influenza vaccine.

Canine influenza is an elective vaccination in veterinary medicine; therefore, veterinarians choose which patients should be vaccinated based on the patients’ lifestyle and exposure risks. If you think your dog may be at risk of exposure to canine influenza, please consult with your dogs’ veterinarian to discuss your dog’s wellness needs.

As of August 16, 2018, there have been 101 cases of canine influenza diagnosed in Michigan since January 1, 2018.  Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus that can cause coughing, sneezing, nasal drainage, eye drainage, lethargy, decreased appetite, and pneumonia.  Dogs are exposed to canine influenza virus when they contact surfaces an infected dog recently coughed/sneezed on or by directly being sneezed/coughed on by an infected dog.

There are two strains of canine influenza virus in the United States.  Luckily, there is a commercially available vaccine that targets both strains of canine influenza.  The vaccine does not completely prevent infection but it dramatically decreases the severity of illness if a vaccinated dog is exposed to the virus. The vaccine is initially administered as a series of two injections 2-4 weeks apart.  After the initial series, it is administered annually to maintain protection.

Because this virus is highly contagious, Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary vaccinates all of our resident dogs for canine influenza.  If you adopted a MAS dog since 2017, your adopted dog has received the initial canine influenza vaccine series!  Please ask your veterinarian when your MAS adopted dog is due for their annual influenza booster.

Due to the recent increase in confirmed cases of canine influenza in Michigan, I recommend you discuss with your veterinarian the pros and cons of vaccinating all of your dogs.

For more details on canine influenza virus: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx