Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dog Flu. Canine Influenza. What Is It? What Can I Do?

You’ve likely been hearing a lot lately in the media about the threat of canine influenza (CIV), or the dog flu, here is San Diego County. This blog is intended to alleviate some of your concerns.

Last month, a recently adopted dog was diagnosed in the Mission Valley area with H3N8 CIV. There are hundreds of thousands of dogs in San Diego County and so far this is the only confirmed case that I know of. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports two cases in the Los Angeles area. The original 2004 outbreak on the east coast that began in Greyhound kennels is the same H3N8 strain, and this is the strain that the vaccine was developed to combat. Since 2004, H3N8 has been documented in at least 30 states.

It should be noted that the Chicago outbreak reported over the past few months is in fact of a different strain, H3N2. This particular strain had previously been limited to the areas of China, Korea and Thailand. It is unknown if the H3N8 vaccine has any efficacy against H3N2.
At this point, veterinarians are on the watch for cases of CIV. Any dog presenting for a cough will be treated as highly contagious until proven otherwise, however, there are a plethora of causative agents resulting in an upper respiratory infection (URI) other than the dog flu. With client approval, screening can be performed to determine whether or not dogs with URI’s are in fact infected with CIV and if so, what strain.

Here’s a little information about CIV. It is a highly contagious upper respiratory virus. The incubation period is 2-4 days from exposure to onset of symptoms. The majority of virus shedding occurs in the first 5 days of illness when the dog is still asymptomatic, meaning that we have no idea that the dog is infected yet! If the virus enters the daycare a high percentage of dogs will become infected. About 20-25% will remain asymptomatic (these dogs can still shed the virus however). Typically, less than 10% of dogs develop life-threatening pneumonia from CIV. The majority of dogs exhibit only the mild form consisting of a cough. Nasal and eye discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and decreased or nonexistent appetite may also be seen. Many dogs will develop a low grade fever. It should be noted that a lot of these symptoms can be attributed to secondary opportunistic infections and not CIV itself.

It would be prudent to keep any dog with even the mildest of coughs home from camp, just as you would keep your kids home from school in the same situation ... to do your best to avoid infecting others! Bordetella (otherwise known as kennel cough) is also a highly infectious upper respiratory infection easily spread to other dogs. Contact your veterinarian if symptoms worsen or you are worried at any time. They will take appropriate precautions to prevent spread of an infection within their facility. Typically, it is recommended that dogs diagnosed with kennel cough remain isolated for 10 days. If CIV is diagnosed, that period is increased to 14 to 21 days.

CIV can only survive on surfaces for 48 hours and it is easily killed with basic disinfectants already in use at camp. Be comfortable in the knowledge that they already have strict disinfectant protocols in place to keep your dog as safe as they can be.

If you remain worried about exposure the CIV, vaccination is your best bet. The H3N8 vaccine has been proven to decrease virus shedding and also to decrease the severity of the symptoms of the illness. It is no different than vaccinating your dog against Bordetella. But to be quite honest with you, I remain far more concerned about exposure to severe, life threatening diseases like Parvo virus that run rampant in San Diego county.

If you have any questions about CIV or the H3N8 vaccine, please contact you veterinarian or feel free to contact me at paws4shots@gmail.com
Charlotte Frank, DVM Medical Director
Paws 4 Shots and more www.paws4shots.com 1(844)PAW-SHOT paws4shots@gmail.com 

* Dr. Charlotte Frank has been working with Camp Run-A-Mutt, providing advice, support, and running vaccination clinics to help ensure the safety and well-being of all the pups that come to Camp. We appreciate her work and her taking the time to write this blog giving us the information we need to keep our pups healthy.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Fever!!!

Spring has sprung on us like a bouncy Springer Spaniel!!  The days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting warmer.  As we add more daylight, our bodies and those of our puppy children, react by releasing less melatonin into our bloodstream, waking us from the winter doldrums.

So, if your pup is acting a bit goofier than normal and their energy levels are off the charts, it’s probably because they have come down with a case of Spring Fever!!

Spring Fever will increase your dogs energy levels, they may be more distracted on walks, and they may be more reactive to other stimuli around the house and on their regular walks. They may be more inquisitive about all the new smells in the air.

Spring Fever is not a serious condition but there are a few simple things that you can do to help your pup through these ruff-times.  First and foremost they need more exercise to burn off the extra energy and due to burning these extra calories you may need to increase your pups food.  Second, this is a time you will need to be more patient with your pup and understand that this is just nature’s way. Lastly, keep a close eye on your pups over all appearance. Look closely to see if they are losing weight, keeping properly hydrated, and keep a close eye on their skin. With all the flowers blooming and grasses getting greener there will be lots of new pollen in the air and allergies could sneak up on you.

Get out there and play with your pup and enjoy the Spring!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Your Dog: Your True Valentine

You love your dog(s), your dog loves you.  There are those who question whether a dog is actually capable of love. These people believe that dogs just show us the behavior they believe we want to see so we continue to take care of them and look after their wellbeing.  I will be very honest, I question whether those people truly know what love is.

Having been around dogs my entire life and going into our seventh year of running Camp Run-A-Mutt, and literally being around thousands of dogs, I can tell you this: a dogs love is true.

Scientists have revealed that love is a chemical process in the human body when oxytocin is released and taken up by the body's receptors, giving a feeling of euphoria and pleasure that helps people to make connections. Obviously this is stripping love down to the very basics, but dogs also release oxytocin and it too is received and creates the same feelings. The action of petting your dog is the trigger that releases their oxytocin further stimulating the bond between you and your pup.

Others say that dogs just show us the attention we desire so that we feed them, and to some degree that may be true. But even in people, food is a primary drive. So let’s take food out of the equation. After your dog is fed where do they go? My dogs just want to be with me, lay with me, play with me and just be near. If your dog wants to cuddle or spend time with you, this means your dog loves you. It is as simple as that.

If your heart is honest and your love is strong, your dog will be your true Valentine.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mind Full Dogs are Happy Dogs

It’s true when they say that some dogs are “smarter” than others, but we need to clarify that intelligence comes in many forms. There is instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, working, and obedience intelligence. So it all comes down to what your chosen definition is.
Border Collies, Poodles, German Shepherds, Dobermans and Australian Cattle dogs were listed in the top 5 in a survey done by 208 obedience judges.   Some would say that golden flowing locks of the Afghan hound counteract the fact they were voted “least trainable”. The universe has a justice system. Rounding out the least trainable were the Basenji and the Bulldog.  I can speak from personal experience when I say that the Bulldog is not un-trainable, but rather they would prefer to not do anything.

The average dog can learn up to 165 words while some “super-dogs”(canines in the top 20%) can learn up to 250 different words.  A Border Collie, named “Chaser”, knows more that 1000 words, ruff-ly the same amount as a 3 year old child.

Dogs can understand the basic concept of space in that they are able to form a mental picture or map of the space around them, given some helpful landmarks (fire hydrants and trees).  Time on the other hand is a much more difficult concept to grasp, especially when you have paws.  Dogs understand that things happen in a particular order, like “mom will remove her shoes before I get my treat”. “Lose the shoes Lady!!”.

Communication is a dogs’ strongest type of intelligence. Not only do they “talk” to one another, but they have also managed to train humans in the manner to which they would like to be cared for. (More treats, fluffier beds!)

A dogs’ brain is similar to that of a humans, meaning when they are challenged, the stimulus will forge new neural pathways making your dog smarter.  So challenge your pup, no matter how young or old they may be because the old adage of old dogs not able to learn new tricks in complete non-sense.  In fact, teaching your dog new things and exposing them to new stimuli might actually help to keep them more alert and energetic as they age.