I am writing this article as part of our commitment to keep you up to date on important health issues and to keep your pet happy and healthy. We are all aware of the concern over the Swine Flu that threatens a world wide pandemic and fortunately a vaccine is on the way to help humans deal with this disease. In the shadow of the swine flu, another flu virus has emerged that gives us considerable concern for the health of our canine family members as well. Canine Influenza emerged as a significant threat to our dogs when the virus mutated from horses and started affecting dogs.
Essentially all dogs that are exposed to the virus will become infected. Fortunately, most of the exposed dogs will experience only a mild disease (i.e., coughing, sneezing, etc.). Other dogs will develop severe illness characterized by the onset of pneumonia. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while 80% of exposed dogs will suffer only minor symptoms and 20% will show no signs at all, 5 - 8% of dogs infected with the virus will die.
Fortunately, a new vaccine has been developed to combat this new canine flu virus. We have, as always, taken time to evaluate all of the pros and cons of vaccination, taking into account the balance of risk and benefit. All of the doctors at Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital agree that the vaccine appears safe, as no adverse reactions have been reported to date. Given the highly contagious nature of this virus, the potential for very serious disease in a significant proportion of exposed dogs, and the apparent efficacy of the vaccine, it is our recommendation that all dogs be vaccinated against Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) as soon as possible. To this end we will be establishing a "Canine Influenza Clinic" to vaccinate as many dogs as quickly as we can and as inexpensively as we can. In order to protect all of our patients staying at the hospital, boarding, or being groomed at our grooming center, The Whole Dog, we will now require that all such patients be vaccinated prior to or at the time of admission. Exceptions will be made only for sick patients where the doctor feels vaccination might be contraindicated.
The CIV clinic will be run daily until we have the vast majority of our patients vaccinated. For the purposes of this clinic, patients will be given a ten-minute appointment providing adequate time for the doctor to examine the patient to make sure that he/she is a healthy candidate for the vaccine, and to give the injection. When scheduling your pet's vaccination, please ask for a regular appointment if your pet has any other health issues as we will only be providing Canine Flu vaccine during these special clinic periods.
Please refer to our website for additional information regarding the disease and the vaccination protocols. We have also listed additional websites below where you can learn more about the disease and vaccine from other reliable sources. Please call today to schedule a clinic appointment at the reduced fee or a regular visit at normal fees if you would like or need additional time with the doctor.
Dean J. Cerf, D.V.M.