The Dangers of Canine Flu

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The human flu season is here with a force, and with it comes pet owner fears of Canine Influenza.  Canine influenza Virus is a real and serious disease, but it is not the most common cause of respiratory disease in our dogs.  The more common cause would be Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Bordetella bronchiseptica (B. bronchiseptica) and Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) combined with other pathogens cause the canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), more commonly known as kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis.  Though CIV gets more attention, it is generally associated with geographical hot spots.  Prevalence is highest in the northeast, west, and southwest, with the highest representation being in New York, Colorado, and Florida.  To date, there have been 0 documented/verified  cases in Oklahoma.  B. bronchiseptica is more commonly the disease we deal with that can cause kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis.  The spectrum of disease resulting from infection with B. bronchiseptica is wide.  It could be mild with nasal discharge and intermittent cough, or it can develop into pneumonia.  In some cases the pneumonia could be life threatening.

Both diseases are highly contagious, and dogs of any age and breed may become infected.  Those at most risk include:  Dogs housed in boarding facilities, shelters, kennels, pet shops, puppies (due to immature immune system), and dogs with immune dysfunction due to concurrent infections (viral, bacterial, parasitic).

How are CIV and B. bronchiseptica spread?

Oronasal contact with other dogs, caregivers, or fomites

Inhalation of aerosolized microdroplets of respiratory secretions.

Vaccinating your pet w/ B. bronchiseptica can greatly reduce the likelihood of your pet having severe complications from coming into contact with other upper respiratory pathogens.

By Jennifer Clay, Veterinary Assistant