Friday, November 19, 2010

Protecting the family dog as Flu season approaches

Canine influenza, or the dog flu, first hit the scene in 2004 when an unknown respiratory illness began showing up in racing greyhounds in Florida. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an investigation showed that the illness was caused by the equine influenza, which has existed for more than 40 years. In 2005, it was officially identified by experts as "a newly emerging pathogen in the dog population" in the United States.

Dr. Michael Good has yet to see a case this season, but he treated several cases last winter, one which required a dog to be hospitalized due to the severity of the illness. The dog came down with pneumonia. He said a pet owner has to look no further than the symptoms of a human with the flu to realize that their dog may have the canine form.

"You’ll see coughing, respiratory type symptoms and sometimes they may get a fever, decreased appetite and lethargy," said Good.

Dr. Good knows that many shelters and doggy daycares are beginning to require the only canine flu vaccination, the Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine, but he only recommends it to clients as a preventative measure. The canine flu vaccine is readily available in abundance. It requires two shots, about two to four weeks apart.

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