By | September 1, 2018


If you’ve ever had influenza, the aches, pains, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory issues can leave you bedridden for several days. However, did you know that you’re not the only member of your family who is susceptible to catching the flu? Canine influenza is a serious, potentially life-threatening infection that you can spread easily to your pooch.

Learning more about canine influenza can help you understand the risk factors, recognize the signs of the illness, and how to care for your pet while they recover. Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about canine influenza.

What Exactly Is Canine Influenza?

There are two strains of the influenza A virus that infect dogs: the H3N8 virus and the H3N2 virus. The H3N8 virus was originally identified in 2004 in the United States when the pathogen mutated and spread from horses to dogs. The H3N2 strain originally infected birds and the first reported cases in the United States were recorded in 2015.

Globally, there are no reported cases of either strain of canine influenza spreading from dogs to humans.

How is Canine Influenza Spread?

Both strains of canine flu are highly contagious and spread from dog to dog in several ways, including:

  • If an infected dog coughs or sneezes on or near another dog, they can spread either strain of the virus.
  • If your dog plays with a toy that was touched by a dog infected with canine influenza, they can become sick.
  • Your dog can become infected if it is housed or plays in an area with several other dogs, including inside a kennel, dog park, or doggy daycare.

Additionally, the virus can live on a human’s skin for almost 12 hours. If an individual whose pet is infected with canine flu pets or plays with your dog, it is possible for them to spread the virus.

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Influenza?

If there are other dogs in your area, or if a friend or family member’s dog has been diagnosed with canine influenza, it is important to understand the symptoms. Much like several other canine illnesses, including kennel cough, the symptoms of canine flu include sneezing, coughing, exhaustion, fever, and a runny nose.

If your pooch is suffering from any combination of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important to visit your veterinarian right away. There are tests available that can determine if your dog has canine influenza, and which strain of the virus is present.

How Do I Care for a Dog Suffering from Canine Influenza?

Luckily, the majority of dogs who are infected with either strain of canine influenza will survive. If your dog is diagnosed, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan. Typically, this includes making sure your dog gets plenty of rest, water, and food.

Additionally, your veterinarian will recommend that your dog remain isolated from other dogs for several days. This will ensure your dog can recover, and they will not spread the virus any further.

What Can I Do to Prevent My Dog from Contracting Canine Influenza?

There are several steps that you as a pet owner can take to protect your dog. There are vaccines available for both strains of the virus. If there are reports of canine influenza in your area, keep your dog away from kennels, dog parks, or other areas where there are several dogs present.

Additionally, if you are in contact with other dogs, wash your hands thoroughly before interacting with your dog.

Canine influenza is a serious illness that you can easily spread to your beloved dog. If you have any further questions about dog flu, contact the professionals at Blue Cross Animal Hospital.