LOUIS — Some St. Louis area kennel owners will start
requiring dogs to get a flu vaccine after a recent
outbreak in Chicago has sickened hundreds of canines.
the last few weeks the flu has infected at least 1,000
dogs in the Midwest, and a small number of infected dogs
in the Chicago area have succumbed to the virus. That
has spread anxiety among dog owners, prompting some to
isolate their pets from other dogs.
have been no reported cases in Missouri, but that hasn’t
stopped some kennel owners from seeking preventive
are concerned about it and we are taking it very
seriously," said Alan Jones, owner of Kennelwood
in the next few weeks, dogs will need a flu vaccine to
visit any of Kennelwood’s eight area locations for
grooming, boarding or other activities. A similar policy
will also soon take effect at Petropolis in
Chesterfield, Mo., and other kennels are likely to
is a disease that will be very manageable and very
preventable," said Paul Schifano, Petropolis’
owner and a veterinarian. "The whole approach is to
avoid something that has happened in Chicago."
veterinary experts stress that no local cases have been
reported. They also say that although some cases of the
virus can be severe, dogs with overall good health will
be fine even if they are infected.
flu is very similar to the human virus. It causes
persistent cough, runny nose and fever. There’s
similarly a vaccine like the one people receive every
fall. The dog flu vaccine typically cost about $25 and
requires a booster two to three weeks after the initial
like human flu, there’s no guarantee the vaccine will
keep dogs from getting sick. That’s of particular
concern with the recent Chicago outbreak.
have identified the H3N2 flu strain in sick dogs
throughout the Chicago area. But the vaccine is designed
to protect dogs from only the older H3N8 strain, which
has also been found in some recent cases.
don’t know if the vaccine we are using is going to be
protective or if it’s not going to work at all,"
said David Roberts, a veterinarian at Manchester West
Cohn, professor of veterinary science at the University
of Missouri, said the H3N2 strain was first identified
in 2006 after infecting dogs in Asia. She said there had
been no reports of the virus transmitting to humans,
though cats could be susceptible.
said there was no research on whether the current
vaccine would shield dogs from the H3N2 strain. Instead,
Cohn said owners should focus on other preventive
measures, such as making sure their dogs are up to date
on their other vaccinations.
area veterinarians still see value in the vaccine. In an
email blast to customers, Kirkwood Animal Hospital urged
pet owners to quickly get their animals immunized.
this time there have not been any documented cases of
canine influenza in the St. Louis area, but it is only a
matter of time," it said.
said he was recommending it for "social" dogs
that attend day camp or frequent dog parks. He also said
dogs that travel with their owners should be vaccinated.
Millis, a veterinarian at Millis Animal Hospital near
Richmond Heights, Mo., said that he recommended the
vaccine as a precaution but that he was not sure if it
would work. He’s telling concerned owners to keep
their dogs away from others who are coughing.
said he had seen increased demand for the vaccine over
the last few days. His hospital has had to order more to
over the vaccine aside, experts say owners shouldn’t
worry too much.
are people that get influenza and are fine," Cohn
said. "The vast majority of dogs that get influenza
are going to be OK as well."