Canine influenza: Tips for preventing its spread

With more and more cases of canine influenza being reported, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health released new guideline to help keep your dog safe. 

On April 6, the Board announced a canine influenza outbreak where around 200 dogs were sickened at shelters in Anoka, Hennepin, and Washington counties. They say there are now strong indicators of community spread throughout the Twin Cities. 

In order to stop the spread, experts are asking the public to take some preventative steps. 

For dog owners: 

  • Avoid direct dog-to-dog contact with dogs outside your household or dogs known to have been boarded, attended dog day-care, or visited a dog park in the last seven days.
  • If your dog is sick, keep them at home, away from other animals, and call your veterinarian.
  • Consider avoiding dog parks and other locations with uncontrolled dog-to-dog contact.
  • Keep your distance (six feet) at places where dogs congregate like dog parks and while on walks with your dog.

For kennels, shelters, and dog daycares: 

  • Direct staff to be on alert for clinical signs.
  • Immediately separate symptomatic dogs from others and contact your veterinarian. Signs of influenza include coughing, runny eyes or nose, hard swallowing or throat clearing, fever, and lethargy. Signs often appear suddenly, and a dog that appears healthy in the morning may show signs in the afternoon.
  • Any dog showing signs of respiratory disease should be immediately sent home and not allowed to return to the facility for 30 days. Even a dog that appears to have recovered can continue to shed infectious virus for 30 days.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection measures and frequency. Advise staff to wash hands and clean their clothes between dog interactions.
  • Consider reducing the number of dogs in play groups and keep group membership consistent.
  • Screen new arrivals for upper respiratory symptoms.

For Veterinarians:

  • Report positive canine influenza test results to the Board via our online case report form. Once the Board receives a case report, our agents conduct all follow-up investigations and quarantine procedures with your client.
  • Treat symptomatic patients with caution and advise a 30-day in-home quarantine even without a positive influenza test.
  • Practice good biosecurity in the clinic. Isolate dogs with respiratory illness and thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces and instruments used during the exam. Wear full PPE when treating these patients