You have not heard the last about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These storms have disrupted families and pets along with stray animals. Humane societies, shelters, and rescue organizations have taken in thousands of dogs and cats, no thanks to the storms. This results in overpopulation of shelters and relocation of pets to other shelters and rescue organizations.
The concerns are the spread of disease and illness to the animals’ areas of relocation. The most concerning diseases are heartworm disease, canine influenza virus, and canine distemper virus (CDV). Heartworm disease, influenza, and distemper cases have been diagnosed in some of those relocated animals as well.
Canine influenza virus is more likely to be seen in our area due to the low compliance of vaccination and low occurrence in general. CDV is less likely because it is a core vaccine recommended for all dogs. Generally, there are higher risks of infection with pets that have not been vaccinated and strays from an area of devastation.
As mentioned earlier, CDV is rare due to the vaccination recommendations, but it has been seen in dogs primarily from Texas. Other animals can be affected by CDV, including foxes, coyotes, raccoons, cats, and ferrets.
So what should you as a pet parent watch for? Eye discharge, a dry cough becoming moist and productive, depression, listlessness, loss of appetite, fever, and upper respiratory infection are the most common signs seen. If untreated, severe dehydration and weight loss will occur. CDV can also affect the nervous system, bones, joints, and eyes. A key point here is that vaccination will prevent CDV.
Canine influenza virus is an illness we are hearing more and more about each day that has been diagnosed in shelters down south. There are two strains of this influenza type A seen in dogs: H3N8 and H3N2. H3N2 is more widely spread and was diagnosed in states including Florida and Texas.
What signs may be seen for canine influenza? Some dogs will produce enough immune response after exposure to not have any signs of illness. However, clinical signs mostly seen are similar to kennel cough and may include fever, depression, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. As with any upper respiratory infection, influenza could progress to pneumonia.
In general, influenza will last longer than kennel cough, and pets recover in two to three weeks.
If you have adopted a dog that has been relocated from the South, be aware of these illnesses. Even though they have some socialization, reducing pet interaction for two weeks after adoption will help to reduce the spread of disease. If a cough develops or persists and your pet is acting under the weather, please contact your veterinarian.