Canine Influenza H3N2 Found in Calgary October 2023
By: Dr. Julie Schell BSc(Hons), DVM, CVA, ACVCHM, CVC
Canine Influenza is caused by a virus called H3N2. Originally discovered in Asia in birds, it has adapted to be infective to dogs and maybe cats, but less likely in cats.
Humans do not seem to get it from dogs.
However, dogs can contract other flu viruses from humans.
It can be a devastating virus to unhealthy, stressed dogs and dogs with brachycephalic airways (French Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzu, English Bulldogs) as well as dogs who are poor in nutrition and husbandry or have concurrent disease such as heart disease, asthma, parasites.
It is spread very rapidly when infected dogs are housed in close quarters with unvaccinated dogs in dirty environments. Or, even via nose-to-nose contact at a dog park, training facility, breeding kennel, race track like Greyhound race track, overpopulated daycare centres with poor ventilation or poor hygiene protocols. Humans can act as a fomite to transfer the virus to other dogs if the virus is on their clothes or hands and they touch another dog.
Prevention includes: keeping your dog’s immune system healthy by keeping them up to date on all important/relevant vaccinations, deworming protocols, healthy nutrition programs recommended by your veterinarian, healthy lifestyle, stress free environment and clean environment that is at optimal temperature.
Early detection is important and veterinarians do this by PCR tests (Respiratory PCR) using eye, nose and throat swab.
Symptoms include: lethargy, fever, coughing, decreased appetite, eye and nose discharge, sneezing, vomiting due to coughing so much. Diarrhea is not often a result of infection, unlike human Flu strains.
Secondary infections causing pneumonia can occur due to a weakened lung /airway system and weakened immune system.
Some dogs only develop mild illness and recovery in 2 to 3 weeks. Other dogs may become so sick they get hospitalized.
Treatments may include: intravenous fluid therapy to maintain hydration, oxygen therapy, optimal nutrition, essential oil therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, antibiotics, anti nauseants, pain control medications, anti inflammatory medicines, etc.
Currently in Canada there are no vaccinations available. The pharmaceutical companies are working hard to supply the demand. Only in the USA. Thus, Canadian dogs who are travelling to the USA can get the vaccination there. Especially important if they attend dog shows, sporting events, competitions, or will be boarding in a crowded dog kennel.