Canine Influenza Update | May 2016

Canine Influenza Cases Confirmed Locally in Bloomington-Normal and Pontiac

Update 5/27: We are now requiring all dogs boarding in our hospitals to have had both boosters of H3N2 and H3N8 Canine Influenza with the final boosters given at least two weeks prior to their boarding appointments. More information is provided below.

Since the first outbreaks occurred in Chicago during March 2015, testing has confirmed that there is a new canine influenza strain, different from the previously identified virus, that is causing infection H3N2. Outbreaks have occurred in a number of areas throughout the U.S. and more than 2,000 dogs have been confirmed positive for the H3N2 virus, including many dogs in our area.

So far in May 2016, over 100 cases of H3N2 have been reported in Bloomington-Normal, where two dogs have died to date, and one case has been confirmed in Pontiac. Last November, several cases were confirmed in Naperville and St. Anne in Kankakee County, and others were suspected in Mazon and Streator.

As always, anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact our clinic. We’ve provided more information below regarding our updated vaccine requirements and recommendations.

Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) infection resembles canine infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). The illness may be mild or severe, and infected dogs develop a persistent cough and may develop a thick nasal discharge and fever (often 104-105oF). Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite. The fact that some dogs may not show any signs of illness, but still can shed the virus, results in silent carriers to infect other dogs.

Dogs are most contagious during the two- to four-day incubation period for the virus, when they are infected and shedding the virus in their nasal secretions but are not showing signs of illness. Almost all dogs exposed to CIV will become infected, and the majority (80%) of infected dogs develop flu-like illness. Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia.

Many of your pets have been vaccinated and protected against the previous H3N8 strain of canine influenza, which was first discovered in 2004 and until 2015 was the only strain of canine influenza found in the United States. It is not known whether the H3N8 vaccine provides any protection against this new H3N2 strain, but until recently, it was the only vaccine available. The vaccines may not completely prevent infection, but appear to reduce the severity and duration of the illness, as well as the length of time when an infected dog may shed the virus in its respiratory secretions and the amount of virus shed – making them less contagious to other dogs.

Vaccine manufacturers have now come out with a specific vaccine for the new H3N2 canine influenza strain. With this vaccine now being available, we are updating our boarding and grooming policy to require vaccination for both strains. It is anticipated that both strains will eventually be in the same vaccination but currently they are still separate. Each dog will need two boosters given 2-4 weeks apart. Immunity peaks about 2-3 weeks after the 2nd vaccine booster. So, it is best to plan scheduling in advance if you know your pet will be going to groom or board.  If our doctors have examined your pet within the past 3 months, and you have no other concerns, the doctor exam will be waived at the time of vaccination. Even if your pet had previously been vaccinated for the original H3N8 vaccine, two boosters of the new H3N2 strain are needed for protection.

The CIV vaccination is a “lifestyle” vaccination, recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs – such as boarding, attending social events with dogs present, and visiting dog parks.

For more information:

If you have any questions or would like any clarification on the above information, please give us a call.

Easter Toxin

Easter is a happy of time of year to celebrate with family and friends and easterwelcome spring. But it is also a busy time of year for pet toxin ingestion making March Poison Prevention Month. The most common calls this time of year involve Easter lilies, chocolate, and Easter grass.

True lilies such as Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show lilies are highly toxic to cats. All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure. In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.

There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be. If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call our office or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661-fee applies) immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.

Treatment includes inducing vomiting to get any remaining plant material out of the stomach, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing.

Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Japanese Show, and my personal favorite Stargazer lilies are popular in many gardens and yards. These lilies are also commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household.
Non-toxic types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies typically only cause minor drooling.

Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

With Easter comes Easter baskets and decorations and Easter grass… the fake grass that often fills those decorative Easter baskets. When your cat or dog ingests something “stringy” like Easter grass, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue or stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. It can result in a linear foreign body and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract, often requiring abdominal surgery.

And what’s the other favorite thing in those Easter baskets? Chocolate of course! Chocolate rabbits and hundreds of kinds of chocolate eggs! While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie is not typically an issue, certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Treatment here too requires inducing vomiting to get as much of the chocolate out as possible. The colored foil wrappers on some of those chocolate eggs do make vomiting a colorful process in a lot of cases! The treatment is much the same as lily ingestion where we give activated charcoal (not at all the same as grill charcoal, so please don’t try that) to absorb the toxins. We control the seizures and abnormal heart rhythm with supportive medications as warranted. And give fluids to help flush the toxins out of the blood stream.

Just a reminder, our family of clinics always has a doctor on call 24/7, 365 days a year. Call one of our regular clinic phone numbers and follow the prompts to reach our emergency doctor.

By: Dr. Haag-Eggenberger
Skinner Animal Clinic
Dwight Veterinary Clinic

Holiday Season Means Delicious Foods and…Pancreatitis

As the holiday season draws near, gathering with friends and family dominate many of our plans for the upcoming months. Many times, our furry family members are right there with us enjoying the festivities. But before you let your pet indulge on treats from the parties, be aware that it can put them at risk for serious consequences.

Pancreatitis commonly occurs due to increases of lipoprotein (complexes of lipid aka fats and protein) in the blood. These lipoproteins in the blood are increased when pets eat things like fatty steak, pork, bacon, greasy French fries, etc. Pancreatitis can also occur secondary to inflammation of the liver or bile duct causing lack of blood flow and trauma to the pancreas. High levels of calcium, toxins, or infectious disease can be other causes of pancreatitis. Certain breeds are affected more than others. These include the Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle, and Cocker Spaniel. The Siamese cat also seems to be at higher risk. The average age of dogs presenting with pancreatitis is 6½ years but it can happen at any age.

The gland secretes enzymes and digestive juices that help the body digest food.dogHotDog The pancreas also produces hormones that help regulate the glucose taken from food. Dogs typically present with gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and/or diarrhea. They can be sluggish, depressed, not want to eat, run a fever, be dehydrated, and have abdominal pain.

Diagnosis of pancreatitis often includes blood testing to rule out other organ involvement like the kidney or liver. Blood enzymes like lipase and amylase are often increased on a standard full chemistry. There is also more specific testing looking at enzymes that only come from the pancreas. Sometimes inflammation of the pancreas shows up on an x-ray but it’s just as important to rule out a foreign body in many cases.

Treatment of pancreatitis is based on controlling the signs being shown by the disease. If severe enough, it may be recommended that the pet stay hospitalized. Often times, they need fluids given either IV or under the skin. We give anti-vomiting medications by injection to calm the stomach. Pain medication is often important to keep the pet comfortable. If the pet is still vomiting or having diarrhea, we will fast the pet for 1-2 days to allow the pancreas to rest. After that time, the key is addition of small amounts of low fat food. Lean meats like drained, rinsed hamburger, chicken, or rice are good places to start. If the pet still won’t eat, sometimes we need to resort to a feeding tube to put liquid food directly into the patients stomach. Often antibiotics are included if bloodwork shows an infection or if we haven’t been able to confirm pancreatitis. Chronic or recurring pancreatitis requires long term administration of low fat food. If severe, diagnosis and complete treatment can get quite costly.

So, lets keep those pets happy and healthy over the holidays and I hope I don’t see any of you on emergency for pancreatitis.

By: Dr. Haag-Eggenberger
Skinner Animal Clinic
Dwight Veterinary Clinic

Fear-Free Pet Visits!

One of the more recent emphases being advocated by “America’s Veterinarian”, Dr. Marty Becker, and the veterinary profession, is the “fear free” experience of taking your pet to the veterinarian.

Hippocrates said it this way: “Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.”

Our veterinary oath obligates us to, “the prevention and relief of animal suffering.”

Many people are hesitant to bring their pets to the veterinary clinic because of the perceived stressful experience for them and their pet.

Animal Behaviorist, Dr. Karen Overall, states that fear is the most damaging thing a social species can experience. So what is the solution – to create fear free visits that happen inside a fear-free practice.

A Fear-Free Practice actually starts at home with fear-free pets. Well-behaved animals at home are, of course, much more likely to behave well when their owners bring them to the veterinary clinic. Training pets are like raising children, the more time we spend early on teaching and rewarding them for acceptable behavior, the more this will promote the peace and harmony of the human-animal bond.

Here are six ways Karen Overall says people can help their pets live in peace and harmony:

  1. Teach people how to pet their dogs and cats. Make it a rule to only give their pets attention when they are calm, and use gentle, soft strokes to pet. For dogs, focus on petting the chest, side of the neck, or the side of the body – areas the pet relaxes into.
  2. Encourage pet owners to commit to consistent training and rewards (treats, praise, play, petting). Never allow one family member to “rough play” with the dog & allow mouthing, but not allow this with other household members. This is very confusing to the dog as to what behavior is acceptable.
  3. Desensitize your pet to the transportation crate by having it out all the time at home and putting tasty treats or toys in the crate so your pet feels very comfortable in it.
  4. Number four is about timing and consistency. The reward structure should be clearly defined and appropriately reinforced at all times. Pet owners need to understand that when teaching a new behavior we teach best best by rewarding at every instance of appropriate behavior and that our pets will retain what they have learned best by rewarding them intermittently.
  5. Human and pet expectations. Make sure you are rewarding the pet with what is intrinsically rewarding to them, not what you think they should like. Think of food as currency. You have to understand exactly what currency will make a pet’s eyes light up. (Freeze dried liver, turkey hotdog, deli turkey, salmon, Gerber’s Graduate Meat Stick, Honey Nut Cheerios, Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. Cats thrive on tuna, easy cheese or canned cheese, Feline Greenies, and baby food.
  6. Establish “leadership” vs dominance with your dog. Leadership helps the human family gain influence over their dog simply by controlling all resources to use as motivators to reward dogs for appropriate behavior

Procedures that we are using in our veterinary clinic to help pets to have a more pleasant experience:

  • We are using pheromones (chemical substances that are produced and secreted by animals that influences their behavior and gives them a sense of well-being) in the exam & treatment rooms.
  • Putting the treat into treatment.
  • We recommend that owners do not feed their pets before coming to the clinic so their pets will be hungry and be much more likely to respond to treats which will distract them. We want them to think of their visit like a trip to the Dairy Queen with lots of good things to eat and can’t wait to come back.
  • If necessary, pet sedation protocols are started before the pet owner leaves home to help the pet to be relaxed and happy.

The bottom line: the more calm and relaxed the pet when coming to the veterinary clinic, the more enjoyable and productive experience for all concerned.

By: Dr. Cronin
Dwight Veterinary Clinic

Why Should I Treat My Pets Year-Round with Heartworm, Flea, and Tick Prevention?

It is that time of year again when we will start to see insects flourish, this includes fleas, ticks, bees, and mosquitoes. We’ve already seen our first cases of tick infestation and bee sting reactions in the middle of April this year. So, have you been giving heartworm, flea, and tick prevention through the winter?

Heartworm disease requires a ‘middle man’ which is the mosquito in order for the microfilaria (baby heartworms) to mature to the infective L3 larva stage. Heartworm disease is spread when a mosquito bites a dog which has microfilaria, the microfilaria then mature, and the mosquito goes and bites an unprotected dog or cat. It then takes 6-7 months for the microfilaria to mature before the adult worms start producing microfilaria of their own. This also the time frame it takes for adult female worms to produce the antigens that are picked up in our standard heartworm tests.

We’ve been talking about year-round heartworm prevention for over a decade. I hear a lot of clients who are still only giving prevention during the warm months. But anymore, we are seeing mosquitos into November. Unfortunately, heartworm prevention does not kill all the circulating microfilaria with one dose. It can take 2-3 months before preventatives will kill all the microfilaria. Several specialists are even talking about resistant microfilaria which take more doses to control. If you are traveling south with your pets, that is also going to affect the disease risks. Year-round prevention which also covers intestinal parasites is going to ensure that your pet does not pick up a parasite that can passed to people.


This year-round recommendation applies to flea and tick prevention as well. We see many cases of flea infestation over the winter despite a good freeze outside. Flea eggs can lie dormant in areas of the garage, basement, in the furnace filter, and even on wildlife in the backyard. When these areas warm up, the eggs start to hatch. When heartworm, flea, and tick prevention become a monthly habit all year-round, it helps insure we don’t miss a dose or get off the monthly schedule when our pets do need the protection the most.

So what about cats? Yes, they can get heartworm disease as well but it works a little differently than in the dog. In the cat, only a handful of adult worms mature and so there is a very low level of microfilaria, if any. But it only takes a few worms to make a cat very sick because of the difference in body size. Unfortunately, there is no current treatment for heartworm disease in cats. Since we live in an area where heartworm disease is prevalent in dogs, we recommend heartworm prevention in cats year-round as well.

By: Dr. Haag-Eggenberger
Skinner Animal Clinic
Dwight Veterinary Clinic