Friday, April 5, 2013

A-Z Challege: F is for (K9) Flu

Welcome to the A-Z Challenge! This year, my theme is Pet Health - information for people about their furry, four-legged family members.

Yes, there is a K9 Flu. But don't worry, it's not contagious to people like Swine Flu, Bird Flu, etc. Although, while people can't get it, we can help spread it. If you unknowingly pet an infected dog and go directly home and love on Fido, you've just contaminated your dog.

The K9 Flu (H3N8) wasn't discovered in dogs until 2004. When your dog is vaccinated with his DHLPP shot every year (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvo), and if he receives a Bordatella shot (Kennel Cough), your dog already has some protection. However, this is a K9 Flu vaccine, to help prevent your dog from catching the H3N8 strain.

If your dog is going to be boarded, taken to a lot of dog parks or dog shows, it's a good idea to have your dog get his flu shot. Always check with a boarding facility as to what vaccinations they require as they may now be requiring the K9 Flu vaccine in addition to others they require.

Just like in people, the symptoms of the K9 Flu are similar to the people version including fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, runny nose, and coughing. And more often than not, it'll have to run it's course just like in people. However, you know your pet best. If see that your pet isn't drinking enough or eating enough, or the cough sounds worse, take your dog to the veterinarian. Your dog may need fluids to prevent dehydration or even antibiotics if a secondary infection such as pneumonia happens.

People often ask if their dog getting the vaccine will mean it will never get sick. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee. Just like people who get a flu shot can still get the flu, your dog could still come down with the flu. However, if Fido's been vaccinated, it could lessen the severity of the his illness and it can also lessen the change that he'll shed the virus when sick, thereby not infecting other dogs. Just remember, there is no guarantee your dog will not get sick if he has been vaccinated. Prevention is always best.

My sources: Pet Health Network, Pet Education by Dr.'s Foster & Smith, as well as my experience working in large/small animal practices and a veterinary laboratory.


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