MADISON, N.J., March 31, 2016 – Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) today launched If This Dog Could Talk, a campaign to raise awareness among pet owners of canine influenza. Conducted in partnership with The Dogist photographer Elias Weiss Friedman and his renowned photo-documentary series, the initiative will leverage his unique storytelling through distinctive photographs to help reach pet owners with critical information about the risks of canine influenza and the importance of prevention.
Canine influenza first appeared in the United States in 2003, and, in 2015, a new strain emerged – H3N2 – which has already affected dogs in half of all U.S. states. It has been reported that H3N2 produces 10 times more virus than the original strain (H3N8), making it far more contagious. According to clinical studies by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, H3N2 may be shed for an extended period of time – up to 24 days, which is far longer than what is seen with H3N8.1 As a result, the infection can spread quickly among social dogs in inner cities, doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, sporting and show events and any location where dogs commingle. Despite the prevalence of cases and seriousness of the disease, many pet owners are still unaware that dogs are at risk for canine influenza.
“We understand and value the significant bond between animals and their owners and it’s our mission to do everything we can to help maintain the health and well-being of pets – including education about potential health risks,” said Kathleen Heaney, D.V.M., Executive Director, Companion Animal Technical Services, Merck Animal Health. “We are proud to partner with The Dogist on this campaign – helping us reach even more pet owners, providing them with information in a unique way, and encouraging them to talk with their veterinarian about the right protection for their pets.”
The If This Dog Could Talk campaign will hold events in three cities – Chicago, Atlanta and Charlotte – hit by H3N2 canine influenza outbreaks in 2015. During each event, pet owners will have the opportunity to meet and have their dogs photographed by The Dogist, while also learning about lifestyle factors that may be putting their dogs at increased risk for canine influenza. The campaign will culminate with a spotlight on several amazing dogs that were impacted by the flu – including incredible photos and their stories memorialized in an impressive e-book.
“The goal of The Dogist is to celebrate the beauty of dogs and share their stories in a way that illustrates each one’s uniqueness,” said Elias Weiss Friedman of The Dogist. “One of the most important stories to tell is about a dog’s health needs, so I am excited to partner with Merck Animal Health on this campaign to help more pet owners understand the importance of protecting their dogs against canine influenza.”
Additional Canine Influenza Background
- Because the H3N2 strain of canine influenza first emerged in 2015, close to 100 percent of dogs are naïve to the new virus and have no natural immunity to it, meaning virtually all exposed dogs become infected.
- Common clinical signs of canine influenza include coughing, fever, sneezing, ocular discharge and lethargy. In severe cases, pneumonia can develop, and up to eight percent of critically ill dogs may die from complications.
- Prevention is the best approach, and Merck Animal Health offers vaccines to protect against both CIV H3N2 and H3N8.
For updates on local events, look out for posts from The Dogist on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about canine influenza, visit www.doginfluenza.com. Owners who suspect their dog may have canine influenza or are concerned about their risk should speak with their veterinarian.
About Merck Animal Health
For 125 years, Merck has been a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. 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, well-being 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 and Twitter.
About The Dogist
The Dogist is a photo-documentary series about the beauty of dogs started by Elias Weiss Friedman in October 2013 and based out of New York City. The series has traveled to over 30 cities around the world and produced a book in 2015, The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs. To learn more, follow The Dogist on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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