Why Your Dog May Need a Flu Shot

It is challenging enough to try to get yearly flu shots for kids, aging parents and ourselves. Now the family dog may need one, too.

USA Today reported that some kennels are requiring that canines be vaccinated:

"Before making boarding arrangements for vacations or the holiday season, dog owners should check with their veterinarians about the highly contagious canine influenza virus (CIV), says Kimberly May, spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"CIV is rarely fatal and, unlike swine flu, humans cannot get this virus from dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it causes acute respiratory infections in dogs, and virtually all dogs who are exposed become infected. During the incubation period of two to four days, pets who appear healthy can still be spreading the germs."

Canine influenza first was reported in 2004 at a Florida dog track and spread to several states, according to USA Today.

For most healthy dogs, the risk is low if pets stay at home. Dogs kept at kennels and other places where canines are grouped together have the greatest chance of catching the flu.

The Sacramento Bee ran a Q&A about pets that said canine flu symptoms generally are mild and include a runny nose, fever and cough.

The American Veterinary Medical Association published a background sheet on canine influenza that includes information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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