Recently (as of June 2017) there have been reports of canine influenza reported in Florida. As expected many pet owners have called with questions about protecting their pets, and are requesting the Canine flu vaccine.
As a pet owner I do understand the concern of not wanting to see our pets get sick. But as a doctor there are several things pet parents need to understand not only about the canine influenza virus vaccine but about vaccines in general.
- When a vaccine is given the patient does not get immediate protection.
When vaccines are given we are giving the patient part of the disease. The vaccine can be a modified live vaccine or killed vaccine, or sub-unit vaccine. Part of the agent is given so the immune system recognizes it as a foreign agent and attacks it. When an injection is, given it takes time for the body to respond.
- Boosters are required.
The Canine flu vaccine, like many other vaccines, requires a booster 3-4 weeks for the patient to become fully protected. The second injection is in essence training the immune system to respond to the virus when it comes in contact to it.
- Not all patients are at risk for getting the canine flu.
If you pet does not go to dog parks, groomers, board, doggie day care, or walk in the neighborhood, then he/she are at low risk to getting the virus. But remember that this virus is air borne and dogs do not need to come in direct contact with each other. Those that associate with other dogs (show, training and sporting events) or are high concentration areas of other dogs (doggy day care, boarding, dog parks) are at the highest risk.
- Not all patients are healthy enough to get the vaccine.
If your pet has or did have cancer, an autoimmune disorder, or an uncontrolled endocrine disorder (Diabetes or Cushing’s disease) then your pet is not healthy enough for the canine flu vaccine. This is not a comprehensive list of conditions in which receiving the vaccine could make your pet more sick. Please consult with your veterinarian on whether or not it is in your pets best health interest.
- Receiving the vaccine does not guarantee that your dog will not get sick.
An important aspect to remember is that no vaccine provides 100% protection. This is not only for the canine flu vaccine but for ALL vaccines. While the purpose of vaccines is to keep pets from getting sick, there is no guarantee that your pet won’t get sick. BUT, if they do get sick by an agent they have been vaccinated for, the severity and duration of the illness should be shortened.
The influenza virus can mutate very quickly, in both pets AND people. This is the main reason why people are recommended to get a flu vaccine every year. When you get the flu vaccine, each year you are vaccinated for a different strain.
As of August 1st, 2017, East West Animal Hospital IS carrying the flu vaccine. We are aware of one boarding facility in the area that requires the vaccine for boarding.
IF you plan on boarding your pet, or feel your pet should receive the Flu Vaccine, please contact our office. We also have several supplements available to help protect your pet from getting sick. All of the supplements available help boost the immune system. They are all prescription supplements, and do require a current exam performed within the last 6 months. Certain supplements need to be started 1 month before boarding your pet, and needs to be continued for 14 days after boarding to be fully effective.