AHNA now has a vaccine to help prevent the new strain of flu (H3N2) that affected many dogs in the Asheville area last summer. In November 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture granted a conditional license for the vaccine to address outbreaks. This is a killed virus vaccine which requires two doses, 3 weeks apart in adult dogs and puppies. The series cannot be started in puppies until they are 8 weeks old. Once initial immunity is established by the two vaccines, the pet will need an annual booster. This vaccine will offer your dog the best protection possible at this time, but no vaccine is 100% effective. Further studies on the effectiveness of the vaccine are still underway. We saw many cases of Canine Influenza last summer and early fall that were confirmed with testing, but are not currently seeing cases that we suspect are Canine Influenza. The dogs that caught Canine Influenza during the outbreak were, for the most part, significantly sick and experienced coughing, fever, lethargy and little to no appetite. Some dogs developed pneumonia and were quite ill, but all those treated in our hospital survived. No one can predict if this strain of flu will flare up in our area again, but it is certainly possible. A dog’s immune system does not achieve protective levels of antibodies following this killed virus vaccine until about two weeks after the second vaccine, so your dog must be vaccinated well in advance of an outbreak in order to be protected when the outbreak occurs.
To learn more about Canine Influenza and read articles on H3N2 Influenza that we posted in our blog last summer and fall, please go to the following links: