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Infectious Respiratory Disease in Canines

What is This New Respiratory Disease Affecting Dogs?

We have recently observed a significant increase in canine respiratory cases that are resistant to antibiotic treatments. At present, we believe that the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) is the primary cause. At our practices associated with K9reproduction, we have confirmed multiple cases of CIV.

In the past few months, there has been a surge in dogs exhibiting symptoms such as coughing, fever, pneumonia, and, in rare instances, respiratory failure leading to death. These viruses and bacteria spread rapidly among dogs in confined spaces such as grooming parlors, doggie daycares, and dog events. The transmission occurs through coughing, sneezing, barking, shared water and food dishes, and potentially via human clothing, hands, and shoes.

Should I Be Worried About Canine CIV?

Yes, there is cause for concern. Canine CIV is highly contagious and can lead to severe pneumonia or death. Most dogs are not vaccinated against CIV, and there is no specific treatment available. Supportive care is the primary course of action, which includes antibiotics for secondary infections, fluids to alleviate respiratory congestion, and cough suppressants like Cough Tabs. Unfortunately, anti-viral treatments for dogs are not available.

Are My Dogs at Risk for Canine Influenza Virus?

The risk level for your dogs depends on their lifestyle. Dogs that frequent boarding kennels, doggie daycares, groomers, dog parks, and those participating in dog shows or other canine sporting events are at a higher risk. People may inadvertently introduce the virus into their homes through their clothing, shoes, and hands.

What Do You Recommend?

Prevention is the most effective strategy. Staying home is an option, but as we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not always practical. Vaccination is crucial. We can vaccinate against Bordetella, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and canine influenza. The intranasal Bordetella, parainfluenza, and adenovirus vaccine offers local immunity, blocking the virus and bacteria at the entry points in the nasal and oral cavities. The oral vaccine may not provide the same level of parainfluenza protection.

If your dog's lifestyle exposes them to potential risks, we recommend vaccinating them against CIV, which involves an initial vaccination followed by a booster three weeks later, and then annual boosters. This is also an opportune time to update the Bordetella 3-way vaccine for additional protection if overdue. If vaccination is not an option, avoid activities that could lead to exposure and practice social distancing, which may include limiting visitors to your home and kennel.

What Causes Respiratory Disease in Canines?

Canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRD), commonly known as "kennel cough," has various causes. It is not a single diagnosis but a collection of disorders. Viral agents include adenovirus, parainfluenza, coronavirus, canine distemper, canine herpes virus, and canine influenza A (H3N2 and H3N8). Bacterial agents include Bordetella and mycoplasma. There may be other unidentified causes as well. The only definitive way to identify the infection cause is through PCR testing of throat swabs, which can take up to a week for results.

How Do We Know This Outbreak is Caused by Canine Influenza?

In our practices at K9reproduction, we have confirmed multiple cases of canine influenza infection (H3N2) through PCR testing. We recommend vaccinating any dog in high-exposure risk situations with the bivalent vaccine, which protects against both H3N2 and H3N8 strains. If your dogs' lifestyle necessitates Bordetella vaccinations, they should also be protected against canine influenza with vaccines.

Where Did Canine Influenza Come From?

Before 2004, there were no reports of dogs contracting canine influenza. It is believed that this new virus resulted from a mutation of equine influenza. The second variety likely entered the U.S. through dogs imported from Asia. Because it is a relatively new virus, most dogs initially had no natural immunity. Based on the recent outbreak, many dogs remain unprotected, making vaccination essential.

Are Vaccines Safe for My Dog?

Vaccines have likely saved more human and animal lives than any other medical advance, including antibiotics, anesthetic agents, imaging, advanced surgery, and cancer treatments. In our practice, we have not observed any adverse events associated with the canine influenza vaccines, although vaccine injuries can occur but are rare.

Should I Vaccinate My Dogs?

Vaccinating your dogs against the 3-way Bordetella and 2-way Canine Influenza infections can protect them, save you treatment costs, and potentially save their lives. Given the limited supply of vaccines, it is advisable to consult your veterinary professionals at K9reproduction to arrange protection for your dogs.

For more information on canine influenza, you can watch the latest podcast from Pure Dog Talk where Dr. Marty Greer discusses CIV in greater detail.

Respiratory Disease
Respiratory Disease


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