The Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) reports that according to the primary care veterinarian, the two dogs did not have fevers, but did have a cough, treatment was minimal and they are now doing well.
Since news first came out regarding the southern King County CIV H3N2, Patrick and I have been doing our homework to ensure that we are running Rover’s Ranch dog boarding facility here in the Methow Valley (in north central Washington) safely.
We see this as an opportunity to re-assess our protocols. Since the Methow Valley hosts many visitors and their canine companions from the other side of the mountains, we believe this is the prudent thing to do, even though at this time the WSVMA is not aware of any other dogs testing positive for canine influenza in Washington State.
We have had numerous lengthy discussions (consultations) with both local and King County veterinarians, and we have been keeping abreast of the news posted on up-to-date, reputable, non-commercial websites: the WSVMA, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), King County Public Health and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Two vaccines for H3N2 recently became available and are, at present, conditionally licensed. Canine influenza vaccines are considered “lifestyle” vaccines, meaning the decision to vaccinate is based on a dog’s risk of exposure. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarians to determine whether vaccination is needed for their dog, especially if the dog is in a higher risk group (pregnant, puppy, elderly, immune-compromised or on medication that suppresses the immune system, or history of underlying respiratory or heart condition).
What does all this mean if you are planning on boarding your dog?
We encourage to you talk with your veterinarian, especially if you have a dog with health issues of any kind or if you simply want to get your veterinarian’s opinion. Especially if you and your dog go to dog dense areas in King County, you may want to read up on the CIV H3N2. (We found non-commercial websites, such as the websites for the organizations listed above, to be the most helpful.)
Finally, we can share with you what the veterinarians with whom we have consulted are recommending, namely:
Because the effectiveness and safety of the two conditionally approved vaccines for CIV H3N2 have not yet been proven and because the H3N2 CIV strain is not prevalent enough (two proven cases in Kent, WA) or considered serious enough clinically, there is no current justification to requiring or recommending the vaccines for healthy dogs with social lifestyles. The two vaccines have been determined to reduce transmission and severity of symptoms, but do not prevent dogs from getting the virus or reduce the shedding of the virus by an immunized dog that gets infected.
If, upon talking with your vet, you decide that your dog is a candidate for the vaccine, once you begin the vaccination process, you will not want to take your dog to any dog-dense environment for at least five (5) weeks. That is because the H3N2 vaccine requires an initial vaccine and a booster vaccine two to four weeks later, with full immunity expected about one week after the booster vaccine.
We value every single one of our customers and prefer to err on the side of caution. We hope we do not cause you inconvenience or create an atmosphere of fear by being proactive. At the present time we have set up the protocols below. We will continue to assess whether these or other protocols are prudent.
1. Whether you are a first-time Rover’s Ranch customer or an ongoing one, please leave your dog(s) in the car when you arrive.
2. We ask that all dogs visiting Rover’s Ranch from outside the Methow Valley refrain from socializing in dog-dense areas such as grooming or daycare facilities, dog off-leash parks, or training facilities for one week prior to their stay here. Leash walks are completely appropriate during this week.
3. For the time being, until we learn more from King County, as a precaution, we recommend that all dogs who are “at risk” refrain from boarding at the kennel. If you do not know if your dog is considered “at risk,” please contact your veterinarian.
4. If your veterinarian and you determine that the best course for your dog is to receive the conditional vaccines prior to boarding, we support that decision. We ask that you be especially careful to not schedule time at the kennel until your dog is deemed to be fully immunized.
5. We are unable to board any dog that is manifesting any of the following symptoms: coughing, sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite.
We will continue to stay abreast of this issue, and we will alert you to any changes in our recommendations or our protocols. Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions whatsoever.
Thank you! Kathryn and Patrick Heim