Has your dog been vaccinated for the flu?
Has your dog been vaccinated for the flu?
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff
MetroWest Daily News
Posted Feb 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
Veterinarians, kennels and pet owners are wrestling with the best response to a newly emerging disease, one likely to still catch some animal lovers off guard: dog flu.
At Framingham’s Slade Veterinary Hospital, clients have shown steady interest in the daily drop-in clinics for canine flu vaccine — established after the office diagnosed an early case.
At the Holliston Meadows kennel, potential canine guests are now turned away if they’re not vaccinated, lest the facility face an outbreak and a shutdown that would hurt finances and burden clients.
And while other clinics feel that the limited spread of the disease doesn’t warrant stocking vaccine yet — Medway Animal Hospital is one — pet owners are advised to consider their personal circumstances and their dog’s possible risk.
The vaccine is considered safe and locally costs around $27 per shot, with two doses given initially and then one each year thereafter. Though the fatality rate for canine flu is low, it’s still thought to run up to 8 percent, or about eight in every 100 dogs.
“If you’re the family of one of those eight dogs, that’s pretty significant for you if you can prevent it,” said Dr. Claire Sharp, an emergency room veterinarian and professor at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton.
In theory, all mammals are susceptible to one or more of the many viruses that make up the flu family. But the disease didn’t actually show up in dogs until 2004, at a Florida greyhound track.
While prevalence is greater in other states, such as New York, the disease has turned up in Massachusetts after a brief appearance at a state track several years ago — two cases have been diagnosed since the fall, including the Framingham one. That dog, which lives in Bristol County, made a full recovery.
But quantification is tricky, even with a state requirement that confirmed infections get reported to the Department of Agricultural Resources and its Division of Animal Health so any future mutations get tracked.
Symptoms such as a cough, fever and a runny nose may look like other respiratory infections, and the mailed-out blood or nasal swab tests needed for confirmation often get bypassed, because treatment would not vary. That could include fluids, or antibiotics if other infections like pneumonia take hold.
Also, for sicker dogs with lingering symptoms — 20 percent of cases — the effects may still be felt but the virus’ ability to trigger a positive test result dissipated.
“We don’t know how common it is,” Sharp said of canine flu. “(But) we’re definitely finding it.”
That leaves the question of pursuing vaccination, with the disease showing up year-round and leaving all dog breeds without inherited or developed resistance because of its nascent nature. Those animals that spend a lot of time in kennels, travel to other states or attend dog shows are thought to face greater risk.
Among that group, puppies, older dogs and those with suppressed immune systems are likely even more susceptible.
“Just being at the dog park is probably not a risk,” Sharp said.
Vaccination won’t necessarily prevent infection, but will lessen the intensity, Sharp said. It can also help the greater good by preventing a wider outbreak.
That’s partially why Holliston Meadows initiated its vaccination requirement and discounted flu shots at its sister Holliston Animal Hospital, kennel employee Amanda Lacey said.
Slade’s kennel also follows that policy — like Holliston Meadows it’s afraid that an outbreak could temporarily close the facility and disrupt client schedules.
“Once it gets in, it travels, and you would be closed down for 30 days,” Dr. Anita Migday, the owner, said.
Natick Animal Hospital also offers the vaccine and provided it to 20 dogs last year, though staff don’t consider it a core inoculation.
“We just think the risk right now is very low,” chief-of-staff Dr. Andrea Moolenbeek said, describing a “middle-of-the-road” approach.
Medway Animal Hospital, meanwhile, doesn’t even carry the vaccine, with Dr. Monica Mansfield consulting numerous infectious disease experts before concluding there was not yet a need.
“We don’t want to add a vaccine in the body if we don’t have to,” she said. “That doesn’t mean it won’t change.”
Dr. Margo Roman’s M.A.S.H. animal clinic in Hopkinton also doesn’t provide the service, since she combines homeopathic and mainstream practices and doesn’t support optional vaccination.
Instead, she seeks to boost immune systems, then use natural treatments if needed.
But beyond covering those dogs deemed most at risk, some owners have chosen the vaccine for their cherished pets for another reason, Migday said: peace of mind.
“Some people just want their dog protected because they get their personal flu shot every year, so their dog should get one, too,” she said.
Has your dog been vaccinated for the flu? - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News
02-14-2012, 12:01 AM #2
There have been reported outbreaks in San Antonio and I'm not far from there. While canine influenza isn't generally deadly, it's strongly recommended dogs get it. My dog got her CIV shots right when I heard about it.
It's a 2 shot series. you get the first shot then the 2nd can be given 2-4 weeks after.
It can be mistaken for bordetella (kennel cough) but is generally a little more severe.
By Vicki in forum Pit Bull NewsReplies: 3Last Post: 04-07-2011, 01:22 AM
By ZoeyBear in forum Health & Nutritional CareReplies: 7Last Post: 03-08-2010, 04:34 PM