Canine Influenza

Canine Flu: What Do Dog Owners Need to Know?   

Vet Editorial by Dr. Ginny Mule    


The 2017-2018 influenza (flu) season has been making headlines as one of the worst in recent history for people. As of February 23rd, 2018 the CDC is reporting elevated levels of flu activity, and there have been a total of 97 pediatric deaths due to the influenza virus across the country. This, in addition to the recent emergence of canine influenza as a disease of importance in dogs, has a lot of pet owners worried, but should they be? The goal of this blog post is to provide a broad overview of canine influenza- what we know, what we don’t know, and how best to keep the canines in your life happy and healthy.


Author’s note- there have been no diagnosed cases of canine influenza in the greater Morgantown area, but many surrounding states as well as greyhound racing tracks in southern West Virginia have experienced outbreaks.


What is canine influenza virus?

Canine flu is caused by an “influenza A” virus of either the H3N8 or H3N2 strains. It is a respiratory disease, similar to the forms of influenza that circulate in people, but at this time the specific virus infecting dogs has NOT been documented to infect people. At this time, there are no influenza viruses that can be transmitted from people to dogs, either. It is believed that the H3N8 strain, first identified in 2004, originally mutated from an equine influenza virus. The H3N2 virus seems to have evolved separately, first being identified in a Chicago outbreak in 2015. Dogs infected with canine influenza virus show clinical signs such as sneezing, fever, lethargy, and coughing. In most cases, the disease is self-limiting and resolves with simple, outpatient care in 2-3 weeks, but in some rare cases, dogs require hospitalization for pneumonia. Unlike the human flu, which is usually confined to winter months canine flu outbreaks happen year-round.









Most dogs recover from canine flu with just rest and supportive care.


How do dogs get canine flu?

The canine influenza virus is most commonly transmitted by contact with infectious respiratory secretions through barking, coughing, and sneezing in proximity to other dogs. It can also be spread by contaminated objects, called fomites, such as clothing, food bowls, and medical equipment. So far, the majority of outbreaks have occurred where large numbers of dogs congregate- most commonly dog shows and greyhound race tracks. Although there have been no specific outbreaks associated with boarding kennels, doggie daycares, or dog parks, these environments do present a risk because of high numbers of congregating dogs.


What should I do if my dog is exhibiting signs of canine flu?

The canine flu shares a lot of clinical signs with other respiratory diseases such as kennel cough. If your dog is showing respiratory symptoms, we recommend that you make an appointment with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. While your dog is coughing or sneezing, refrain from bringing them to dog parks, daycare, or places where they are going to interact with other dogs. When you call to make an appointment, please be sure to tell the receptionist what clinical signs your dog is having (coughing, sneezing, lethargy, discharge) so that appropriate steps can be taken to prevent transmission to other pets. After doing a physical examination, your veterinarian can determine which medical tests are appropriate and what treatments are necessary for your dog.


Is there a vaccine?

There are currently vaccines available for both known strains of canine influenza. A dog must receive a series of two shots, distanced at 3-4 weeks apart, to receive the best immunity. The vaccine must then be boostered annually to provide continued protection. The canine influenza vaccine, like most human flu vaccines, is not fully protective against infection. Vaccinated dogs can still become sick, and even contagious to other dogs, but are expected to experience milder clinical signs and a shorter disease duration.

Should I vaccinate my dog?

This is a difficult question to answer; there is no across-the-board recommendation for every dog. If you are concerned about canine influenza, or think your dog is at risk, then vaccination is never a bad idea. Like other vaccines, there is some risk of adverse vaccine reactions, but the vast majority of dogs will not experience any side effects other than mild fatigue. At this time, Cheat Lake is NOT requiring the canine influenza virus for dogs boarded at our kennel, but we encourage you to discuss the risks and benefits with your veterinarian before boarding. Pet owners should definitely consider vaccinating if they participate in dog shows, agility competitions, or are otherwise in contact with large number of unknown dogs on a regular basis.


Please check back for updates on our recommendations and boarding vaccine requirements.

The information in this blog post was drawn mostly from the AVMA Canine Influenza FAQ page at and from Merck Animal Health at

Periodontal Disease

It’s that time of year again: February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Did you know that periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in both cats and dogs according the the American Veterinary Medical Association or AVMA. This condition is also completely preventable. Periodontal disease is inflammation or infection of the gums and is caused by accumulation of dental plaque. Clinical signs of dental disease can include bad breath, loss of appetite, dropping food, excessive drooling, bleeding gums, and loose or missing teeth. The dental plaque contains bacteria which can cause irritation to the gums. Over time, pets can accumulate more dental plaque and bacteria which could lead to bad breath, bleeding gums, severe infections, pain, and tooth or bone loss. The following chart describes the different stages of periodontal disease and clinical signs that occur during those stages.














To prevent the accumulation of the dental plaque, the teeth need to be cleaned regularly. Dental plaque can accumulate in matter of days; therefore, brushing daily is best. If brushing your pet’s teeth is not an option, there are many other products that help delay the progress of dental plaque. These products should be used daily to help reduce the build up of dental plaque. Luckily there are many great products available to owners including brushes and toothpaste, oral rinses, dental treats and diets.  

Many owners ask what products are best for their pet’s dental health. The Veterinary Oral Health Council or VOHC endorses veterinary dental products that have been tested for their ability to reduce the accumulation of plaque and/or calculus.  Look for veterinary dental products with the VOHC seal of approval or follow the link to get a complete list of dog and cat veterinary dental products.










Additionally, even with daily brushing or dental care at home, most pets will eventually require professional dental cleanings. These professional cleanings are very similar to dental cleanings in their human counterparts. However, dogs and cats need to be anesthetized to perform a thorough dental cleaning and polishing, dental x-rays, as well as probing the gums to look for evidence of advance disease. The veterinarian can surgically extract any loose or fractured teeth identified during the dental procedure so patients do not have to return for an additional procedure.



If your pet is showing any signs of periodontal disease please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today to discuss the next steps to improve pet dental health.

~ Becky Harvey DVM, MPH  



***To celebrate Dental Health Month, Cheat Lake Animal Hospital will be offering $10 off any dental examination and 10% any dental procedure from February 1 though March 15, 2018.***

Ticks…Tis the Season?

The weather is getting warmer and our minds are turning toward fun outdoor activities this time of year.  Our furry friends tend to spend much more time outside as well, raising our concern for “buggy” encounters.  While warmer weather does bring an increase in insect activity, truth be told fleas, and more importantly, potentially fatal ticks are a concern year round.  Year-round prevention is mandatory to prevent tick-borne disease.  Ticks actively seek a blood meal when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit, leaving you and your pet at risk.  With the extreme jump in tick-borne diseases in our area, we must change our thinking about tick prevention and tick-borne diseases.  The number of diagnosed Lyme cases has skyrocketed in the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 


Consider the following data from the Companion Animal Parasite Council in WV and PA, as well as in our two most local counties:


2016 2012
West Virginia 2165 (1 in 15 tested) 1015 (1 in 20 tested)
Monongalia County, WV 236 (1 in 20 tested) 40 (1 in 43 tested)
Pennsylvania 41,067 (1 in 8 tested) 23,508 (1 in 8 tested)
Fayette County, PA 283 (1 in 13 tested) 20 (1 in 13 tested)


As you can see Lyme disease is on the rise.  Along with Lyme disease we are also seeing more Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in our area.  There is some good news.  We do have some very effective flea and tick products at our disposal.  There is a product for every pet and client preference.  Some suggestions are newer oral flea and tick preventatives such as Nexgard, Simparica and Bravecto.  Effective topical choices (which include repellant properties) are Advantix and Vectra3D.  A long lasting Seresto collar is also an option.  Unfortunately ticks can still be seen and can even attach with these products being utilized.  The good news is that in the estimated 24-48 hours it takes for disease transmission to occur, the tick should die.  Lyme vaccination is also a strong recommendation here at CLAH.  This vaccine protects against missed monthly prevention but should not be considered as a substitute for tick prevention.  Any further questions or concerns can be discussed with your veterinarian.

~Chuck Wolfe, DVM

Kitty Cats: “Enjoying the Ride!”

Enjoying the Ride

Getting your cat or cats to their veterinary visits is important and often challenging.  

The safe mode of transportation is a carrier, and it can be your cat’s happy place.

Please try these suggestions:

1. Do not wait until appointment day to drag the cat carrier from storage. Instead, have it sitting out with the door open (or temporarily removed) and put a soft blanket or towel, a few toys and treats inside so your kitty may explore. You will know that a visit has occurred if the treats are gone or the blanket is rustled.  If you see your kitty in the carrier give him or her some verbal praise and a treat.

2. Practice runs may be helpful if you have time.  Simply close the carrier door and walk around the very familiar house with your pet.  Going to pick up some fast food?  Take your kitty for a ride and when the two of you return, you get dinner and kitty gets rewarded with treats.

3. Appointment day is here. Please be calm as cats tune in to your stress. I suggest putting the familiar carrier, kitty and you into a small room with door closed.  If entering carrier with ease isn’t happening at least you won’t be playing “chase the cat” throughout your home. Sit carrier upright and allow gravity to assist you by dropping pet in feet first. Bring a towel or small blanket that smells familiar to cover carrier if he or she is frightened in the car, and remember hiding keeps your kitty feeling safe.

4. Have you dealt with motion sickness or accidents in the carrier that have you rolling down the windows?  Don’t feed 3-4 hours before your trip.  An extra towel, blanket, or multiple paper towels will prevent kitty from becoming soiled and we know cats love to be clean.

Contact us at (304)594-1124 or if you have any questions about traveling safe with your kitty!

We are striving to be feline friendly?,

H.L. Kossuth DVM and staff of CLAH

Lyme Vaccine Clinic

 TicksLyme Disease has Moved into Morgantown!

Lyme disease is spread by ticks that feed on our dogs. It causes painful joints, fever, and decrease in appetite, just to name a few symptoms. Some dogs can suffer kidney disease and have long term effects of the condition. All dogs in the West Virginia are at risk due to the high deer population that spread ticks and the disease. We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases of Lyme disease in dogs this year.

Vaccination, in conjunction with tick prevention will help ensure your dog has the best chance to preventing Lyme disease.

To help protect your dog from this painful tick disease, please visit our Lyme Vaccine Clinic in our Wellness Center on January 16, 2016 from 1pm to 5pm.