All About Canine Influenza

Categories: Infectious DiseasesWellness & Care

What is Canine Influenza?

Canine Influenza is an extremely contagious viral infection caused by the H3N8 and H3N2 strains of the flu virus. The flu is spread through respiratory secretions such as, barking, licking and coughing of an infected dog. Dogs of any age can catch the virus but dogs that live in closed spaces or boarding facilities are at a higher risk.

In 2015, Chicago suffered from an outbreak of the virus before it spread to other states in the mid-western region. Since then, the virus has been reported in states all over the country, such as Florida, California and Texas.


What do you need to look for?

The flu can cause a variety of symptoms and dogs may present in 2 different cases, mild and severe.

Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Appetite Loss
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Runny/Discharge from Nose

In Mild cases, a dog will typically suffer from a moist cough and have nasal discharge.

In Severe cases, dogs will suffer from a high fever and a few of the other symptoms. However, in the severe cases, the symptoms rapidly develop into pneumonia with the dogs coughing up blood from the pneumonia.

How does the Vet diagnosis the flu in your dog?

If you suspect your dog has the canine flu, call your Vet immediately and explain the symptoms your dog is showing. Your Vet will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog to determine the severity of the case. He/she may take X-rays if pneumonia is suspected. Your vet will also suggest running lab work to check your dog’s complete blood count for signs of an infection.

There are also a number of tests your vet can perform to check for the flu virus antibodies in your dog. Unfortunately, these tests are not immediate and can take a couple days to return with results.

What treatment is there for your dog?

Treatment options vary depending on how mild or severe your dog is suffering from the flu. The best course is to bring your pet into your Veterinarian for an exam. After the physical exam, you and your Vet will create a treatment plan that is best suited for your dog.

How can you prevent your dog from catching the flu?

A vaccine for the canine flu is currently available for both strains of the virus, H3N8 and H3N2. Speak with your veterinarian to determine if and when you dog should receive the vaccine. It is important to know that vaccinating against the canine flu virus does not prevent your dog from contracting other respiratory infections such as Kennel Cough.

If your dog is diagnosed with Canine Influenza, please remember to isolate your dog from other pets in the household, including cats.

As always, be aware of your surroundings when you take your dog out to places and bring your dog in for care if you suspect they have the virus.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian and written by Krystina Boozer.