New Awareness Week Launched Amidst a Rash of Dog Flu Outbreaks Serves as a Reminder to Protect Social Dogs This Spring
KENILWORTH, N.J., Apr. 17, 2018 – Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) announced today the inaugural Dog Flu Prevention Week (April 16-22), an annual reminder to pet parents to protect their social dogs, either for the first time or for revaccination, from this highly contagious illness. Thousands of cases of dog flu have been confirmed across the country in the last year, and the Dog Flu Prevention Week is being launched to recognize the anniversary of the discovery of the newest strain – H3N2 – which has been responsible for most of these cases. Dog Flu Prevention Week will be held during the third week of April annually, kicking off the discussion around vaccine-preventable diseases in conjunction with World Animal Vaccination Day (April 20).
Dog flu is a year-round illness that can spread very easily, especially among social dogs. Unlike human flu, dog flu is not seasonal and can be contagious year-round. Common symptoms of dog flu include high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, cough, runny nose and, in some cases, pneumonia – which can be life-threatening. A dog can be infected for several days before any symptoms are present, and symptoms can last for several weeks in many cases. Infected dogs can also remain contagious for almost one month. Since dogs have no natural immunity against dog flu, almost all unvaccinated dogs that come in contact with the virus will become sick. Pet parents can find more information, including outbreak maps, at www.dogflu.com.
“All dogs that are social and interact with other dogs are at risk for dog flu, but the good news is that dog flu is vaccine preventable,” said Kathryn Primm, DVM, co-author of the Pet Parent’s Guide to Infectious Disease of Dogs. “Dogs can be protected against both strains of dog flu with a single vaccine, which is given as two doses, two to four weeks apart.”
Social dogs that are frequently in contact with other dogs at places like dog parks, doggie daycares, grooming facilities and boarding kennels are at an increased risk of dog flu and should be vaccinated on an annual basis to prevent illness or decrease the severity of symptoms if they do become sick.
“As the weather gets warmer and dogs are spending more time outside around other dogs, we hope that Dog Flu Prevention Week serves as a reminder for pet parents to talk to their veterinarians about whether the dog flu bivalent vaccine should be added to their dog’s vaccination protocol,” said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP (Emeritus), chief executive officer of the American Animal Hospital Association. “We encourage pet parents to arm themselves with information about risks and prevention.”
Pet parents can help stop the spread of dog flu by protecting their dogs every year with annual dog flu vaccinations and being aware of the signs and symptoms. A list of vets that carry the vaccine can be found on dogflu.com.
About Merck Animal Health
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada, is the global animal health business unit of Merck. Through its commitment to the Science of Healthier Animals™, Merck Animal Health offers veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments one of the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services. Merck Animal Health is dedicated to preserving and improving the health, wellbeing and performance of animals. It invests extensively in dynamic and comprehensive R&D resources and a modern, global supply chain. Merck Animal Health is present in more than 50 countries, while its products are available in some 150 markets. For more information, visit www.merck-animal-health.com or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter at @MerckAH.
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