Due to the recent outbreak of Canine Influenza in Chicago, and at least one reported case of flu in Wisconsin, Westgate Pet Clinic is now recommending that all dogs that go to dog parks, kennels, and dog shows be immunized against Canine Influenza.
It is important to know that the flu outbreak in Chicago is a different variant of influenza virus then the available canine flu vaccine. Unlike the human influenza virus which mutates quickly and changes almost every year, the canine influenza virus in the United States has been stable as type H3N8 for years. The Chicago canine flu outbreak was caused by type H3N2, a variant that has not previously been seen in the United States. We are hopeful that the H3N8 flu vaccine will offer some immunity to the H3N2 virus.
Here are some important facts about Canine flu:
- The majority of dogs exposed to the flu virus will not get sick. However, dogs that become ill can have severe complications, including life threatening pneumonia. Very young, very old, and immune compromised dogs are at higher risk of complications.
- Flu is transmitted through respiratory secretions. The flu virus can live in the environment for up to 24 hours. The Canine flu is not contagious to people.
- As of this writing, there have been no documented cases of Canine flu in Minnesota.
- The vaccine is available at Westgate Pet Clinic. Initially two vaccines are given three weeks apart, then annually if indicated. Your dog does not have full immunity until 3 weeks after the booster vaccine has been given.
- Because the canine influenza vaccine available targets H3N8, and the Chicago strain of flu is H3N2, the vaccine may not be fully effective, but ideally will provide some cross immunity.
- Like any vaccine, the flu vaccine can cause symptoms of lethargy or malaise. In addition, there are some pets that can develop the flu, even if they are vaccinated.
- The flu vaccine should not be given if your dog is currently ill, or less then 8 weeks of age. Also, if your dog has been vaccinated with any other vaccine, you must wait 2 weeks before giving the flu vaccine.
- The "Kennel Cough" vaccine does not vaccinate against Canine Influenza. (This vaccine targets the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica.) The parainfluenza vaccination included in the distemper combination vaccine is for a different disease and does not vaccinate against Canine Influenza.
History of the breed:
The English Bulldog is typically the most docile of creatures, even though the history of the breed is quite gruesome and dramatic.First mentioned in the literature around 1500, the bulldog was bred to fight bulls in the “sport” of bull baiting. Bull baiting entails setting loose dogs onto a tethered bull and making wagers over which dog could grab the bull by the nose and pin it to the ground. This “sport” is not only cruel to the bull, but many dogs were also severely maimed or killed during the process. Thankfully, bull baiting was made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835.
Originally, the breed was selected for its ferocious and savage temperament, as well as its stocky body and massive head and jaws. After bull baiting became illegal, the bulldog outlived its usefulness as a working animal, and the breed evolved to become more of a companion. In time, the original English Bulldog was crossed with the pug. The outcome was a shorter, wider dog, with a brachycephalic skull--a short skull and “pushed in nose." Today’s bulldog could not withstand the rigors of running and being thrown by a bull, and also could not grip with such a short muzzle and extended lower jaw.
According to American Kennel Club (AKC) standards, the English Bulldog is now bred to have a disposition that is “equable and kind, resolute and courageous (not vicious or aggressive), and the demeanor should be pacific and dignified. These attributes should be countenanced by the expression and behavior."
Health Concerns: Although one of the best breeds of dog as a family pet, the exotic look of the English Bulldog predisposes it to a whole host of health problems. If there is one breed of dog in which owners would be wise to purchase health insurance for, it would be the English Bulldog.