Based on an article that first appeared at

An unknown respiratory virus has been plaguing dogs in the Midwest, predominantly in the greater Chicago area, but rapidly spreading.  While at first it was a mystery, early data from isolated samples indicate that it is a strain of influenza, reminiscent of the Canine Influenza outbreak in 2007/2008.  Early signs of illness include cough, lethargy, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, and fever.  In many cases, signs progress to pneumonia, a condition that can be life threatening.  Early data also indicates that this may be a mutated avian or horse flu that is particularly virulent to canines.  There appears to be no risk to people at this time.

Of particular concern, with Chicago airports being major air travel hubs, it seems almost imminent that this outbreak of canine influenza will reach every corner of the United States and even Canada and Europe.  Thus, if your dog has a particularly high risk life style, such as frequent boarder, doggie daycare, bark park, regularly groomed, show dog, etc., be on the lookout for signs of disease.  Early intervention with antibiotics and supportive care seem pivotal in avoiding dangerous consequences of this canine influenza outbreak.

Although no influenza isolates have been confirmed in Florida to my knowledge, there have been several reports of shelters experiencing dogs with presumed kennel cough, but are presenting with significantly more severe signs that are uncharacteristic of kennel cough. These signs include labored breathing, listlessness, and pneumonia, the latter being a particularly unusual complication of kennel cough.  What's more, several boarding kennels have reported dogs becoming infected with presumed kennel cough despite having been vaccinated against it.  Please note, Canine Influenza is a separate and distinct disease from kennel cough that we routinely vaccinate against as part of our wellness program.  Thus, dogs vaccinated against kennel cough will have no immunity against Canine Influenza.

Merck and Zoetis manufacture a effective vaccines against Canine Influenza, but it remains unclear as to how effective the vaccine will be with this current strain.  Nonetheless, many Midwest kennels are mandating that all canine boarders be vaccinated against Canine Influenza prior to boarding.

Given the morbidity and seriousness of Canine Influenza, the doctors of Maybeck Animal Hospital are recommending immunization for all dogs until this outbreak runs its course, but is especially recommended for dogs with high risk lifestyles, including dogs who go to a groomer, spend time in boarding kennels and or doggy daycare, frequent dog parks, or attend dog shows or agility training/competitions.  If your pet has been examined within the past year, no examination for the vaccine will be necessary.  Since Canine Influenza is not a core vaccine and only recommended during disease outbreaks, it is not included in our free vaccine wellness program.  Please call the office at (321) 291-7917 for more information on the disease, vaccine pricing, and make an appointment to get your dog immunized ASAP.    

Most of the information for this article was taken from a local ABC news article, consultation with Chicago veterinarian Dr. David Gonsky, owner of West Loop Veterinary Care, and rescue volunteer Diana DePinto of the animal rescue group, Friends for Animal Sanctuary.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.