CIVIf you have been watching the news any time during the last week, then you probably know that the canine influenza virus is here in Montgomery County.  There have been six confirmed cases, and sadly, two dogs have died.  All of us here at Pet Dominion have been keeping abreast of the progression of the virus into Montgomery County, and like you, we are staying vigilant to ensure that our patients and our lodging pets stay healthy.  It’s important to know and understand the risk factors, how you can lower those for your dog, and what we’re doing to keep your pets safe here at Pet Dominion.

What is the canine influenza virus (CIV)?
The CIV is a highly contagious virus that is in the same family of viruses as those that cause the seasonal flu in humans.  It first started appearing at greyhound race tracks in Florida in 2004.

What are the symptoms?
Respiratory problems such as coughing and nasal discharge, and in more severe cases, pneumonia, high fever, and difficulty breathing.

What are the risk factors for my dog?
Your dog is at risk if he/she comes into contact with other dogs or even places other dogs frequent.  This includes everything from dog parks and neighborhood doggie play groups to grooming and lodging facilities.

How can I keep my dog healthy?
The canine influenza vaccine is the best way to protect your dog.  Like the human flu vaccine, the CIV vaccine does not guarantee that a dog will not get the flu if exposed, but it greatly reduces the length and severity of the infection. It protects other dogs by greatly reducing viral shedding.  This is why a vaccinated population is the safest social environment.  Once your dog gets the first vaccine, it is very important to bring him/her back in 2-4 weeks later for the booster.  Your dog will not have the maximum protection until about a week after that second vaccine.

How serious is this recent occurrence in Montgomery County?
It’s important not to panic. Like the majority of people who contract the human flu, most dogs recover with no complications.  Less than 5% of dogs die from the virus.  Also like the human flu, it tends to be more severe in the older and very young dogs.

What is Pet Dominion doing to keep my dog safe?
We are doing everything we can to keep the CIV out of our facility. Our veterinarians and veterinary technicians have been proactive in recommending the vaccine since 2009. Meanwhile on our lodging side, we have been requiring the vaccine for over a year in order to keep all dogs staying at our pet resort safe. In addition, we have been following proper cleaning procedures, educating our staff and keeping newly vaccinated dogs separate from those properly vaccinated. “We strongly advise clients lodging their dogs to have at least one week lapse after the booster before lodging,” says our Medical Director and owner Dr. Michael Bassett.

If you have any concerns about CIV, how we’re keeping your dog safe or if you suspect your dog may have the virus, please give us a call at 301-258-0333.  We hope everyone stays healthy and CIV-free!