Canine Influenza (H3N2) is a highly contagious upper respiratory viral disease in dogs (and can infect cats as well).
The majority of infected dogs exhibit a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Affected dogs may have a soft, moist cough or a dry cough similar to that induced by kennel cough. Nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy and anorexia may also be observed. Many dogs develop a purulent nasal discharge and fever (104-105 degrees Fahrenheit
). A small percentage of infected dogs may develop a severe pneumonia and require extensive hospitalization.
The virus is spread via coughing, barking and sneezing, as well as contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes). The virus can remain alive and able to infect other animals on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
Cats infected with H3N2 display signs of upper respiratory disease, including nasal discharge, congestion, malaise, lip smacking and excessive salivation.
The keys to preventing the spread of canine influenza H3N2 virus include:
- Vaccination against canine influenza (requires 2 vaccinations, 2-4 weeks apart)
- Isolation of sick animals for 3 weeks
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection in pet boarding facilities, grooming salons and veterinary practices, with written protocols and policies for maintaining infection control
- Frequent hand washing by animal owners and handlers
- Not sharing equipment or toys between healthy and sick animals.
Veterinary Public Health recommends that dogs that interact with other dogs should be vaccinated against canine influenza.