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Updated Canine Influenza Recommendations and Boarder Requirements

We are updating our recommendations for canine influenza vaccination and our vaccine requirements for our canine boarders.

As many of you know, the dog community in Bozeman, MT experienced a severe influx of upper respiratory infections this past summer.  In contrast to typical “mild” upper respiratory disease, some of these patients developed severe pneumonia and death.  We now know that at least 3 dogs in Bozeman, Montana tested positive for Canine Influenza H3N2.

We now recommend H3N8 and H3N2 vaccination for all “at risk” dogs.  At risk dogs include dogs that participate in activities with many other dogs or are housed with other dogs.  This includes dogs that go to boarding facilities, day care facilities, grooming facilities, dog parks, dog shows, or dogs that have significant contact with other dogs.

Beginning January 1, 2018, we will REQUIRE H3N8/H3N2 canine influenza vaccination for all dogs that board at our hospital.  Influenza is highly contagious and causes severe disease in dogs.  An outbreak in our boarding facility would involve severe illness and death and we are not willing to put our boarding or hospitalized pets at risk.

Background:  Canine influenza is a highly contagious viral disease which can cause very significant respiratory disease and death in dogs.  Currently, there are two active strains in our country:

  • H3N8 was the first strain found and it surfaced in racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004. This strain (H3N8) has since circulated around the country.
  • H3N2 surfaced in 2015 in the Chicago area and is actively infecting dogs in many areas of the country. *For current reports/positives, see Cornell’s Website: https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/news/civchicago.cfm

There are several other viruses and bacteria that can cause upper respiratory infections in dogs, but influenza stands out because it is much more likely to lead to pneumonia and death in dogs.  80% of dogs exposed to influenza will develop disease from canine influenza.  10% of dogs will die from influenza infection.

Because of the severity of disease influenza causes, and because influenza has been diagnosed close to Billings, MT, we now recommend H3N2 AND H3N8 vaccination for ALL dogs that are at risk.  Vaccination helps protect dogs from developing infection and significantly decreases their clinical signs if they do become infected.

We have the bivalent vaccine (H3N2/H3N8) and the separate vaccine strains (H3N2 and H3N8) available for our canine patients.  Each strain requires one vaccine with a booster 3-4 weeks later, then annual re-vaccination.

Please consider vaccination for your dog if he/she is exposed to other dogs and remember that beginning January 1, 2018 we will REQUIRE H3N2/H3N8 canine influenza vaccination for all dogs that board at our hospital.

For more detailed information about canine influenza, please see AVMA’s website:  https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Reference/Pages/Canine-Influenza-Backgrounder.aspx