Should you vaccinate your dog against canine influenza?

Consumer group, Angie's List, says there are things to consider when it comes to vaccinating pets against canine influenza.  According to Angie's List, and the CDC, dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease.  It can be spread between dogs, but the USDA recently approved a vaccine.

Angie Hicks, of Angie’s List, says  “If you are concerned about your dog getting canine influenza, talk to your vet. We talked to several highly rated vets on Angie's List and they say it really is determined by your dog and their activity. If your dog is around a lot of other dogs whether they are going to a bark park or doggie daycare - then it may be a good move. If they are not, you might be able to skip it.”

Angie's List says these are symptoms of Canine Influenza:

Symptoms range from coughing and nasal discharge to fever. A small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease.

Is my dog at risk?
· Any dog could be at risk if they come in contact with a dog carrying the virus.
· Young and older dogs are more susceptible to the more serious form of the disease.
· High risk areas for dogs include dog parks, kennels, and doggie daycare.
· If you live in (or your dog has recently visited) Colorado, Florida, New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, your dog may be at higher risk.
· There is no evidence that dog flu can be transmitted to humans.

Angie's List has these Canine Influenza tips:
· If your dog develops symptoms, call your veterinarian. If your dog is coughing, inform the facility to avoid spreading the disease in the waiting room.
· Local veterinarians know how high the influenza risk is for their practice areas. Deciding whether your dog needs the vaccine should be a discussion with your veterinarian.
· The vaccination does not prevent infection, but may help reduce the duration and severity of illness.
· Use grooming facilities and boarding facilities which are reputable and at which you feel comfortable. Ask the facilities what steps they will take if dogs appear ill.

Angie’s List tips for choosing the right vet:
· The worst time to look for a vet is when you really need one – plan ahead and choose wisely. If you’re thinking about adding a pet to the family, it’s a good idea to find a vet, before you adopt a pet.
· It’s very important for you take your pet to the vet regularly for preventative care and also to potentially diagnose problems early. This is going to save you money in the long run and keep your pet healthier. If you try to “wait out an illness” you’ll likely end up with a very sick pet and a larger medical bill.
· Bring in your pet to meet the veterinarian. Not all pets will enjoy going to the vet, but it is important that your pet appears to be at ease in his/her care.
· Ask about the veterinary technicians. Vet techs do many procedures from preparing dogs for surgery to drawing blood.
· Check credentials. Is the doctor a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association?
· Office hours are important. Does the office provide emergency care when closed? Is the vet available during crisis situations? Do they have a 24-hour monitoring service or leave the animals alone?
· If you need help with the costs, ask the vet about a payment plan? Many veterinarians are willing to work out a weekly or monthly payment plan so that you do not have to pay the entire costs of veterinary care up front. Do they offer discounts for multi-pet households?
· Prepare for routine pet-care costs. Regularly set aside money to cover for unexpected vet bills or consider pet health insurance.
· Pet owners should talk with their vets to come up with a vaccine program, because vaccines are no longer one size fits all. You need to factor in your pet’s age and lifestyle too. Then set up a schedule with your vet and keep an accurate record of the vaccine.
· Health costs for a pet can become quite expensive. A good vet will also give you an estimate for any kind of work before procedures are done. So be sure to ask for a line-item statement before you agree to any procedures.

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