Recent news reports have suggested that a canine influenza outbreak is expected in New Hampshire, but we have not seen any evidence to support this prediction at this time. Canine influenza is a virus that can cause respiratory disease in dogs. The virus has not been shown to be able to infect humans, and currently, the incidence of canine influenza is low in our region. Most dogs we see with respiratory disease have “Kennel Cough”, or infection with the bacteria Bordetella and/or the virus Parainfluenza.
Symptoms of respiratory disease from any cause can include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, fever and lethargy. A large majority of dogs will experience mild symptoms, and will recover without any therapy, similar to how we recover from a cold, and others will recover with supportive care such as antibiotics. A small percentage of dogs, often very young puppies and dogs that are in overall poor health, may develop more dangerous complications from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. Without hospitalization and appropriate therapy, these dogs can die.
We recommend annual vaccination for “Kennel Cough” for all dogs that are exposed to other dogs in environments such as boarding kennels and doggie daycares. A vaccination for canine influenza is available, but we are currently not recommending it for most dogs based on the incidence of the disease here, as well as the likelihood that most infected dogs will recover without it. However, if this recommendation changes, we will be sure to inform our clients.