Veterinarians across the country are encouraging pet owners to vaccinate their canine companions for the flu. Is your dog at risk? And if so, is the vaccine going to prevent that risk? We’re here with help from Dogs Naturally to cover this popular topic to help you decide what is best for your best friend.
What is Canine Influenza Virus and What Are the Symptoms?
The first US strain of canine influenza virus (CIV), H3N8, was identified in racing greyhounds in Florida in January 2004. In 2015, a second strain, H3N2, was identified in Chicago. Since that time, cases have been reported across the States and a few, more recently, in Canada.
- dry coughing
- loss of appetite
- watery eyes, runny nose
- fever (one of the things that makes it different from kennel cough)
Is Your Dog at Risk for Canine Flu?
The media, many conventional vets and especially vaccine manufacturers would love for us to believe that the canine flu is a major epidemic, that our dogs are seriously at risk at that every dog needs the canine flu vaccine.
This is not the case!
The canine flu is not widespread. In fact, most dogs never come in contact with the virus. While the number of dogs exposed to the virus who will get canine flu is around 80%, the mortality rate is very low. And those dogs that do become critically ill from it are typically those who have other health issues to begin with.
According to the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, the first strain of canine influenza virus (H3N8) isn’t common among household pets in the US, with studies showing the level of the virus in the population at less than 5%. In some areas, exposure rates have been low even in pets who participate in high risk environments such as training or agility events.
So maybe its the second strain, H3N2, that’s the problem? Here are some numbers from Dogs Naturally to help put it into perspective:
- There are almost 90 million dogs in the United States.
- There have been 2434 positive cases of canine flu H3N2 since 2015, according to updates done by the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University.
- That means that 0.0027044% of dogs get canine flu.
So, on the extremely off-chance your dog gets the flu, what can you do?
How to Treat the Canine Flu if Your Dog Gets It
Just as with humans, the treatment for a dog with the flu is largely supportive. Because it’s a viral infection and not bacterial, antibiotics won’t help. Here are some of the best things you can do to nurse him back to health:
- Keep a close eye on him to make sure he’s eating and drinking. Fluids are important to avoid dehydration.
- Check his diet. A fresh, raw diet packed with vitamins and nutrients will help your dog fight back against the flu.
- Add some immune boosting supplements like turmeric, Echinacea, goldenseal, oregano, and garlic to his food.
- Give him lots of rest. Exertion causes the cough to become more intense, so limit it.
- Clean up. The virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and hands for 12 hours, so do a thorough cleaning using white vinegar, which is an effective bacteria and germ killer.
Most healthy dogs get over the flu easily within 2-3 weeks. Since symptoms are generally mild, it’s usually best to let nature run its course. This will also help your dog build up a natural immunity to this and future strains.
Remember – the virus is contagious, so keep your dog away from other dogs to prevent the virus from spreading.
What You Need to Know About the Canine Flu Vaccine
So, you understand it’s highly unlikely that your dog will get the canine flu, and if he does, the symptoms will probably be mild, but just in case you’re still thinking about giving your dog the vaccine, there are a few more things you should know.
The canine flu vaccine is a killed vaccine.
The worst vaccine you can give your dog, rabies, is also a killed vaccines. Leptospirosis and Lyme are also killed vaccines. There are countless studies showing the adverse reactions caused by these vaccines, from allergic reactions to death.
A killed vaccine contains a killed form of the virus. Manufacturers do this because they don’t want the live virus to spread.
Supporters of killed vaccines say they’re safer because the virus isn’t live. What these supporters don’t mention is the fact that this also makes it hard for these vaccines to trigger an immune response. So, to make them more effective and longer lasting, manufacturers have to add adjuvants (added chemicals) to them.
Adjuvants are dangerous for your dog. Here are some of the most common ones and why they’re so dangerous:
- Aluminum is the most commonly used adjuvant in vaccines and it’s a neurotoxin. It messes with your dog’s brain and nervous system, and can cause inflammation in the brain, as well as dementia and seizures. It’s also a known carcinogen.
- Formaldehyde. Yes, one of the chemicals used to preserve dead bodies is a common vaccine ingredient and also a known carcinogen.
- Thimerosal is a mercury-based additive that’s meant to preserve a vaccine. It has been proven to cause tissue cell death and neurological disorders. It’s especially toxic to your dog when combined with aluminum.
- Phenol is another preservative commonly used in vaccines. It’s a highly poisonous, corrosive substance that comes from coal tar.
- Animal tissue. Most disease micro-organisms are cultured on animal tissue, and when manufacturers make a vaccine, it becomes impossible to divide the two. This tissue is put into the bloodstream, where the white blood cells have to fight it, making it harder for them to fight the other, more dangerous foreign substances.
Not only is the canine flue vaccine a killed vaccine, it hasn’t even been proven to prevent an infection. So you’re risking your dog’s health with something that may not even prevent it! Another risk is that, as manufacturers modify these vaccines to fit different strains, the viruses become resistant, making it so that your dog needs to keep getting these toxic drugs because the old ones won’t work (even though they may not work to begin with!).
So, what are the most important things you need to know about the canine flu vaccine?
- It isn’t widespread and your dog is unlikely to come into contact with it.
- If he does get it, the symptoms are usually mild and it’s best treated with supportive care at home.
- The canine flu vaccine is not the answer. It’s a killed vaccine, it’s toxic, may not work, and is causing the flu to become resistant. Skip it!