The canine influenza virus causes a variety of signs in dogs ranging from a mild upper respiratory infection (coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy) to severe disease resulting in high fever, pneumonia and even death. Additionally, researchers recently discovered that dogs infected with canine influenza virus are at risk for developing residual long-term lung damage.
Canine Influenza Virus has recently become a serious concern in Colorado. Alarmingly, Colorado Springs ranks as 1 of the top 5 cities in the United States for the highest incidence of canine influenza virus infection. Most dogs, regardless of breed or age are at risk for canine influenza. However, certain venues and activities can significantly raise a dog’s risk of infection. Dogs at highest risk of infection are those who travel, and/or those who visit places where other dogs frequent (ie. hiking trails, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, pet stores, dog parks, training classes, etc). Neighboring dogs can also be a potential source of infection. Because canine influenza is a highly contagious “newer” respiratory virus, virtually every dog that is exposed to the virus will become infected. Transmission of the virus occurs easily, and dogs can become infected in a variety of ways. The virus can be spread through the air, through direct contact with infected dogs and/or by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces. Infected dogs that do not currently show signs of the disease can still spread the virus to other dogs. Thankfully, a vaccine has recently been made available to help protect your dog from this emerging infectious disease. It is important that your veterinarian discusses this disease with you when designing a personalized vaccination protocol for your dog.