Recently one of the most respected experts on pet healthcare, Dr. Jean Dodds, posted an article addressing the concern around the outbreak in Chicago and other areas of canine influenza.  One of the points she brings out is that naturally occurring immunity can be more effective and long-lasting than vaccine immunity.  Studies have shown that in humans naturally occurring immunity can be life-long and, although no studies have been done on canines, dogs probably have the same capacity.  This is in contrast to the generally accepted belief that influenza vaccine immunity lasts around 2-3 years.  The other limiting factor with influenza vaccinations is that they are strain-specific, meaning that a vaccine against one flu will not necessarily be effective against another strain of flu.  This is made more complicated due to the fact that viruses are always naturally mutating into new forms in order to survive, further reducing the general effectiveness of vaccines against influenza.  

The article below, although somewhat technical, provides a good overall understanding of the pros and cons of flu vaccines for dogs.  In the case of influenzas that are not necessarily life threatening, allowing a healthy dog to get through it naturally may allow the pet to develop a longer lasting immunity to future outbreaks and may be the best course of action.  If there are serious pre-existing health issues, obviously you should consult your veterinarian to determine what is best in your specific situation.  If you would like to understand this topic in more detail we would encourage you to read the article below. The article by Dr. Dodds appeared in “Dr. Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource Blog.”  

Please click on link below to go to the article: