We have had many, many questions regarding the canine influenza virus (CIV) that has been infecting a large number of dogs in the Bloomington-Normal area. So I have listed some of the most common ones with their answers.

Q: Is the canine flu the same thing as kennel cough?

A: No, they are completely separate diseases. CIV is caused by the H3N2 virus, while kennel cough is typically caused by the Bordetella bacteria.

Q: Does my dog have any immunity since he is normally vaccinated for Bordetella and Parainfluenza?

A: No, again these are different organisms. Also, since the H3N2 virus first was found in the U.S. just last year after coming from South Korea, no dogs in the U.S. have any natural immunity to this virus.

Q: How do I keep my dog from getting CIV?

A: The virus is spread through respiratory secretions, usually by coughing, so the only way to completely avoid it is to keep your dog away from other dogs. The main places that dogs can pick up the virus are from boarding, grooming and day-care places, as well as dog parks. Basically any place where a large number of dogs may be together at one time.

Q: Can I vaccinate my dog for the canine flu?

A: Yes, there are two vaccine strains, one for the H3N2 virus, and one for the H3N8 virus. The H3N8 is an older strain of the flu, but can still cause problems. It is recommended that dogs be vaccinated against both strains of the flu virus and then have a booster in two to four weeks. Just like with human flu vaccines, these will not be 100 percent protective in all dogs, but should provide adequate protection in most who are vaccinated.

Q: If my dog gets CIV, how is it treated?

A: Treatment typically involves medications to help with coughing and fever. We also use antibiotics, as some of the dogs that get infected will develop secondary bacterial infections. Other treatments such as fluids may be needed for those dogs that get dehydrated. Most clinics will have to do treatments in an outpatient manner, as infected dogs that are hospitalized can spread the flu too easily to other dogs that are there.

Got a pet-related question? Send it to Dr. Anderson, a veterinarian at Hawthorne Park Animal Care Center in Bloomington, via email at features@pantagraph.com.

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