Why Does Pet Camp Still Require the Dog Flu Vaccine?

In February 2018 Canine Influenza (also called Dog Flu or CIV) came to San Francisco for the 1st time.  CIV had been floating (literally) around the country since 2004 when it was detected in greyhounds in Florida.  There were outbreaks up and down the East Coast and as far west as Chicago, but until February 2018, there were no known cases of CIV in San Francisco.

When CIV came to San Francisco, it hit hard and fast.  San Francisco dogs, having never been exposed to this virus, were a naïve population and the “new” (to our dogs) virus spread quickly.  Many, many of the dogs at Pet Camp at that time came down with CIV or at least the symptoms of the virus.  We were very fortunate that none of the dogs at Pet Camp passed away, but not every pet care facility was as fortunate. We were also assisted by some amazing veterinarians in San Francisco, especially those at NORCAL Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital (which sadly no longer exists).

But February 2018 was almost 6 and half years ago.  One might ask why are we still requiring the vaccine?  Frankly, it is a reasonable question.  We know that not every pet care facility in San Francisco requires the dog flu vaccine.  Rather than requiring the CIV vaccine some of them just “highly recommend” the vaccine while some don’t even mention it.  Interestingly, one pet care facility with locations both in and out of San Francisco (and California) requires the dog flu vaccine at some of their locations, even when there is not an outbreak, but not in San Francisco.  Another pet care facility, at least for a while, required the dog flu vaccine for dog daycare but not for overnight care (we never understood that distinction).  So why does Pet Camp still require this vaccine?

Just because the dog flu is not currently in San Francisco, doesn’t mean that it’s not still around.  Using Google Alerts, Pet Disease Alerts the outbreak map at dogflu.com (you can’t make this up) and several other tracking services, we get at least one notification a week of a dog flu “outbreak” somewhere in the United States.  Sometimes the outbreaks are across the country and sometimes just across State lines.  With dogs traveling with pet parents for vacation or relocation, a dog across the country one day is across the street the next.  But the dog flu continues to spread around the country and, sadly, one day is going to return to the Bay Area.  As we learned 6.5 years ago with dog flu and more recently with Covid-19, once a virus is spreading in a community starting a vaccination program then is just too little too late.

We understand that requiring a vaccine that other pet care facilities don’t places an additional burden on pet parents in the form of both time and money.  We don’t have health and safety rules just to have rules: we have them because we think they protect your dog and every other dog under our care.  Honestly, we are none too pleased to have to turn away a camper because they lack a required vaccine, but we do.

So please, speak with your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog against dog flu and other contagious diseases.  An additional vaccine during the same veterinary visit doesn’t add that much to the total visit.  If you use a pet care facility in San Francisco that does not require the dog flu vaccine, consider getting the vaccine anyway; it will protect your dog and all other dogs your dog encounters at the pet care facility and while just out and about.

Thanks for reading.