Dr. Brad Fenwick, veterinarian and internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases in canines, is reminding dog owners that a new vaccine for canine flu is not designed to ward off kennel cough caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica, a much more common illness among dogs of all breeds."While canine flu and Bordetella kennel cough can manifest similar symptoms, they are not identical diseases and cannot be prevented with the same vaccine or treated with the same medications," Fenwick said.

A canine flu vaccine that was recently granted a time-limited conditional approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) appears to be somewhat effective in lessening the severity of flu infections, Fenwick noted, but it has not been fully tested or unconditionally approved.

Although serious cases of canine flu have been rare, kennel cough is much more common in any home or kennel where two or more dogs are housed, Fenwick said. Most dog owners will be far more likely to encounter kennel cough than canine flu in their pets.

Research on a more effective vaccine for Bortedella-caused kennel cough is ongoing under the auspices of the American Greyhound Council (AGC) and other greyhound racing organizations.

"Dog owners should not make the mistake of relying on the new flu vaccine to prevent kennel cough caused by other microorganisms," Dr. Fenwick concluded.