When we first started getting confirmed flu cases (Canine influenza virus, which doesn’t bother people) in Ohio we debated vaccination. We know the flu virus is very good at mutating, and were worried the current vaccines may not match the current disease. We also know most dogs that ‘catch’ the flu fight it off easily, barely getting sick. Some require treatment, very few develop pneumonia. The doctors at Urbana Veterinary Clinic debated the issue and also called Dr. Wingfield. We all had similar thoughts. None of us are seeing increased respiratory cases. The two shelters I work with were only seeing respiratory problems in dogs that were coming in without the benefit of routine vaccinations before surrender (distemper, parainfluenza, Bordetella). The consensus was to keep watching but not make any changes in our vaccine recommendations. I also talked with a colleague in Columbus, where they are seeing an increase in respiratory cases including flu.
Dr. Wingfield and I compared notes again this week. Though the outbreak has not gotten worse there have been confirmed cases in Ohio, Kentucky and one in Indiana. Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine and the AVMA have recommended the new bivalent (two strain) flu vaccine for dogs at high risk due their lifestyle. This includes social butterflies, regular visitors to boarding kennels, show-dogs, pooches that regularly visit the groomer, working dogs, dogs that travel a lot, etc. Barely Used Pets has begun vaccinating new arrivals to the shelter. We have decided to stock the vaccine, so people that feel their pet is at increased risk have the option of vaccination. Protection will require two doses, costing $35 each. As with people, the current vaccine may not protect against future strains.