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Canine Flu

February 1 2023

Did you know that your canine companion can get the flu? In fact, there’s an outbreak going on now. Fido’s version, canine influenza virus (CIV)–also often called the dog flu—is an influenza A virus. There are several strains, but the two that are most common in the US are H3N8 and H3N2. These strains are both extremely contagious, and are the culprits behind the current outbreak. A local vet offers some information on this below.


If Fido gets the flu, he’ll likely have many of the same symptoms as you would, such as coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Of these, coughing is the most common. It may also be the most persistent. That said, our furry friends all react differently to the flu. Some pups will not show any symptoms at all. Other dogs may bounce back after a few days, or stay sick for weeks. A few will become severely ill. In rare cases, dog flu can be fatal. Senior dogs and pooches with chronic illnesses and/or immune deficiencies are at highest risk.


Fido’s flu can spread extremely quickly. The virus is transmitted through droplets of saliva, and can remain active in respiratory droplets on surfaces for several hours. Pups can easily contract it through shared toys or dishes. Fido could also get sick by greeting or nose-booping another pooch, or even just by sniffing a stick at a park that a sick dog played with hours ago.

Dogs that have contracted the flu remain contagious for about a month. As one can imagine, places like dog parks, daycares, grooming salons, and kennels can quickly become hotspots of contagion. Another potential source of spread? People! Someone who pets an infected dog and then a healthy one may quickly spread the illness from pooch to pooch. Be aware of the risks when taking Fido to different places. You can also track the current outbreak online here.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for the canine flu. In most cases, dogs recover on their own, though they may need some extra TLC. You’ll need to keep your furry pal comfy and hydrated, and monitor him carefully. If you know or suspect that your pup has the flu, reach out to your vet and ask for specific care tips.

Our Advice on Canine Flu in 2024

What are the symptoms of canine influenza (dog flu) in dogs, and how do they typically manifest?

Canine influenza (dog flu) symptoms in dogs resemble those in humans. Common signs include coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Coughing is often the most prominent symptom and can persist. Dogs may display varying reactions to the flu, with some showing no symptoms, others recovering within days, and a few becoming severely ill. Senior dogs and those with underlying health issues are at higher risk. Prompt identification of symptoms is crucial for early care and monitoring. If you suspect your dog has the flu, consult your vet for specific guidance on managing their condition.

How does canine influenza spread among dogs, and what are the primary transmission sources?

Canine influenza spreads quickly among dogs through respiratory droplets containing the virus. The primary transmission sources include close contact with infected dogs, especially in places like dog parks, daycares, grooming salons, and kennels. Shared toys or dishes can also carry the virus, posing a risk to other dogs. Even a friendly nose-to-nose greeting or sniffing contaminated surfaces, such as sticks or grass, can lead to transmission. Furthermore, people can inadvertently spread the virus by petting an infected dog and interacting with a healthy one. Awareness of these transmission sources is vital to reduce the risk of canine influenza.

What is the duration of contagion in dogs that have contracted the flu, and which places are potential hotspots for transmission?

Dogs infected with canine influenza remain contagious for approximately a month. They can transmit the virus to other dogs during this period through respiratory droplets. Potential hotspots for transmission include places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks, daycares, grooming salons, and kennels. These environments have a higher risk of virus exchange due to close contact among dogs. Pet owners should exercise caution when taking their dogs to such locations, especially during flu outbreaks. Preventative measures, like vaccination and proper hygiene, can help minimize the risk of transmission in these areas and protect canine companions.

Is there a cure for canine influenza, and what are the recommended care and treatment options for infected dogs?

Canine influenza has no cure, but infected dogs typically recover with supportive care. Treatment focuses on keeping the dog comfortable and well-hydrated. It may include anti-inflammatory medications to reduce fever and ease discomfort. Monitoring the dog’s condition is essential; additional medical intervention may be necessary if symptoms worsen. Isolation from other dogs is crucial to prevent further spread. Owners should consult their veterinarian for specific guidance on caring for their infected dog, as individual cases may vary. Vaccination is also recommended to prevent future infections and reduce the severity of symptoms if a dog contracts the virus.

Where can pet owners find up-to-date information on the current outbreak of canine influenza?

Pet owners can find up-to-date information on the current outbreak of canine influenza by visiting reputable sources such as their local veterinarian’s office, the website of relevant veterinary organizations or associations, and government health agencies dedicated to animal health. Additionally, staying informed through news outlets and official announcements from animal health authorities can provide valuable updates on the outbreak’s status. It’s essential to rely on credible sources to ensure accurate and current information regarding canine influenza and any related outbreaks in specific regions. Consulting with a veterinarian for local information and guidance is also advisable for pet owners concerned about the flu in their area.

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