Dr. Tom Buckley isn’t recommending that local dogs receive the canine flu vaccination, but that could change if the outbreak that recently hit Chicago were to reach Johnson County. To date, there have been no reported cases of
canine flu, also known as H3N2, in Kansas.
“We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about (canine flu) lately,” Buckley, veterinarian and owner of Oakbrook Animal Hospital in Gardner, said.
The canine flu, though highly contagious, doesn’t kill most of the dogs its infects.
“A lot of dogs that come in contact with (the virus) do get sick, but it carries a low mortality rate,” he said.
Dogs with the flu exhibit a variety of symptoms, including persistent cough, thick nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite. It can be mild or sever, but most dogs recover within two to three weeks.
There is a two dose vaccination available, but Buckley said it’s not something the typical dog owner in Gardner needs to worry about right now.
Dogs in shelters are most at-risk for contracting the illness. At least, that’s how canine influenza outbreaks in other states have occurred.
“At this point in time we’re kind of in a wait and see pattern,” Buckley said.
He’s monitoring pets in the local animal shelter located near and run by Oakbrook Animal Hospital staff.
“I think people need to be paying attention, but I don’t think people need to panic about getting their dogs a vaccination right now,” he said.
Canine influenza was first diagnosed in 2005. The virus has never been diagnosed in humans, though Buckley says viruses mutate all the time.
For now, there are other diseases for which people could consider vaccinating their dogs. Buckley said local dogs are much more likely to catch rabies, canine distemper or Bordatella than the canine flu.
“There are only so many vaccines that you want to give your animal,” Buckley said. “There are others that are more important.”
Other veterinarians may disagree, but Buckley said he is advising his clients to choose only the vaccinations that make the most sense. He isn’t even advising people to keep their pets away from other dogs.
“Go to the dog park. Have fun,” Buckley said.