At St. Francis Pet Resort in Williamsburg, which is adjacent to Godspeed, they are taking a proactive approaching to vaccination. It was the first facility in the area to mandate that all dogs get the flu vaccine, and they strongly recommend it for all dogs coming into the hospital as well.
“Our main priority is to be advocates for pets,” said Kelly O’Connor, the Hospital Administrator. “We want the community to know it’s our responsibility to educate them on diseases.”
“Animals are so much more socialized than they used to be,” Dumont added. “They go to the Farmers Market, to doggy daycare. Here in Colonial Williamsburg, people bring dogs from all over the country.”
That leaves a lot of room for virus transmission, especially since the virus is highly contagious. It is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, through shared bowls, blankets or toys, any kind of organic debris, and mostly, human contact. Although people can’t get the dog flu, “We are the most common spreaders,” Bourgeois said.
Dumont said that active dogs are actually most at risk because they tend to breathe harder, allowing the virus to settle into their lungs faster, creating mucus that then morphs into a cough.
Many people will mistake the flu for kennel cough, or Bordetella, since the two conditions share other symptoms, including lethargy and fever. “The way to determine the difference is through a culture,” Dumont said.
If dogs have the flu, they just have to wait it out, generally for a few weeks. They shed the virus for 24 days.
The vaccine that both Dumont and Ertugrul administer is Merck’s bivalent vaccine — meaning it covers both the H3N8 strain, as well as the H3N2.
It’s given in two doses, two weeks apart. Dogs are fully immunized after the second vaccine, Bourgeois said. They also recommend that dogs repeat the vaccine annually when they receive their booster shots.
“At this point, we don’t have any contra-indications for older dogs being vaccinated,” she added. “After the first dose of core vaccines for puppies, it’s safe to give the vaccine.” Read more…