Pet professional business safety recommendations

In 2015, a new strain of canine influenza emerged in the United States—H3N2—which is estimated to produce ten times more virus than previous strains and has already has spread to at least 30 states. H3N2 infection is highly contagious and can spread quickly among social dogs in urban areas, doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, sporting and show events, and any location where dogs commingle. The virus can be transmitted directly from dog to dog through droplets from sneezing and coughing or indirectly through fomites.

A recent discussion among veterinary professionals and experts, which is currently available on VetFolio (titled: "2016 Pet Professionals Best Practices Consensus Statement"), addressed how pet professional businesses such as kennels, veterinary facilities, doggie daycares, dog walkers, groomers, and training facilities can prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including H3N2.

Key recommendations from the discussion include:

  • All dogs should receive vaccinations against core canine infectious diseases according to the recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.
  • Social dogs, including those that are boarded, groomed, group trained, or group walked, are at higher risk for infectious respiratory diseases. Social dogs should be vaccinated against infectious respiratory diseases caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus, and both types of canine influenza virus (H3N2 and H3N8).
  • For the best protection, all vaccination series should be finished at least two weeks before visiting boarding kennels, doggie day cares, training facilities, or other multi-dog events.
  • Isolate any dog that shows any signs of infectious disease such as lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, coughing, diarrhea, etc., immediately.
  • Provide veterinary care to pets showing signs of illness.
  • Do not groom, group walk, or group train sick dogs. Inform your clients about not accepting sick dogs beforehand and provide alternative care options, such as a pet sitter.
  • If you’re dealing with an outbreak of infectious respiratory disease, reach out to local veterinarians, shelters, animal facilities, and be transparent about your efforts to handle the outbreak. Communicate with clients; share information and be empathetic, so they understand your concerns about their pet’s health.
  • Prepare for potential outbreaks by assessing your capacity of care, vaccination recommendations, and sanitation and isolation protocols.
  • Educate your staff about the proper use of disinfectants and protocols for handling isolation and quarantine situations. Before disinfecting, all areas need to be cleaned thoroughly.
  • All the areas in your facility need to be cleaned, including frequently-handled items, such as pens, cell phones, door knobs, light switches, keyboards, computer mice, etc.
  • Build credibility with your customers by consistently sharing quality information through social media, email messaging, and even printed handouts.
  • Every business should have business owner insurance, and a veterinary business should have malpractice insurance as well.
  • To further develop your professional relationship with clients, host informational presentations about pet topics.

The full recommendations from the discussion will be posted online in 2017 and will be published in AAHA Trends.

This content was provided by Merck Animal Health.

Photo credit: © iStock/Highwaystarz-Photography

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