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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dog-gone flu (Canines hit, too)

Area veterinarians are keeping a watchful eye on a potential threat to dogs.

Just as the swine flu poses a health risk to humans, Canine Infectious Virus - or CIV - is a similar threat to dogs. So much so that area boarding kennels are recommending that people talk with their veterinarians about possibly having their pets inoculated against the virus.

The federal government recently approved a vaccine for the virus, which is a mutated strain of an equine flu that was first detected in dogs in 2004.

Veterinarian Ron Budz of Willoughby Hills Veterinary Clinic says he's been contacting local kennels to see if they are observing any dogs displaying the flu's symptoms. So far none have, Budz says, though such businesses are likely the first place the disease will appear.

Such kennels are where the flu will spread since they house large numbers of dogs in a relatively confined space, Budz says.

"These are the areas where we want to watch. We also want to be vigilant and if we see it, then we'll recommend it to anyone who boards their dogs," Budz said.

Budz did say that the flu-type virus has appeared in dogs in both Pennsylvania and New York.

Dogs have no natural immunity to the disease.

However, it may be "premature over-kill" to begin immediately to inoculate all dogs, Budz says also.

"The Ohio State University in not recommending it for wide-spread use yet," Budz said.

It is expected that the immunization shot against the virus will probably cost between $30 to $40, Budz said.

Symptoms of the contact virus include sneezing, nasal discharge, a low-grade fever and a cough that can last up to three weeks, resembling kennel cough, reports the Internet "Dog Health Guide."

Severe cases include difficulty breathing and a high body temperature. It is this stage where secondary bacterial pneumonia may develop, Budz and the "Dog Health Guide" both describe.

It is important to remember, too, that the disease is seldom fatal; less than 8 percent of dogs contracting the illness die.

Treatment includes encouraging the pet to drink lots of water. Owners should watch for a bout of secondary pneumonia which would require a dose of antibiotics.

In the most severe cases a dog may require intravenous fluids, requiring a pet hospital stay.

Also, the disease is spread by dog-to-dog contact and cannot be passed to or from humans.

-- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn,


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