Canine Flu

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. For guidance on preventing other transmissible illnesses, see Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs.

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 is canine influenza?

Canine influenza, or dog flu, is an influenza A virus affecting dogs, with common strains in the US being H3N8 and H3N2. Highly contagious, it mirrors human flu symptoms like coughing, nasal discharge, and fever. Transmission occurs through saliva droplets, affecting dogs through shared items or direct contact. While there’s no cure, supportive care helps recovery. Given its rapid spread in communal settings, awareness and preventive measures are crucial for dog owners. Notably, susceptible are senior dogs and those with underlying health issues. Always consult a vet if symptoms arise.

What are the symptoms of dog flu?

Dog flu, officially known as canine influenza, presents symptoms similar to those in humans, including coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and a reduced appetite. Coughing is notably the most prevalent symptom and can be quite persistent. The severity of symptoms varies widely among dogs; while some may show no signs at all, others could recover quickly or remain ill for weeks. In severe cases, canine influenza can lead to fatal outcomes, particularly in senior dogs and those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. Always seek veterinary guidance if symptoms appear.

Is there a vaccine for canine influenza? If so, how effective is it?

As of the latest information, vaccines are available for canine influenza, specifically targeting the H3N8 and H3N2 strains, which are most prevalent in the United States. These vaccines aim to prevent the onset of dog flu or lessen its severity rather than provide absolute immunity. While they are an important part of managing and controlling outbreaks, their effectiveness can vary based on several factors, including the dog’s health and the strain’s match. Consultation with a veterinarian is crucial to determine if vaccination is appropriate for a dog, taking into account its lifestyle, health status, and risk exposure.

How does a vet diagnose canine influenza?

To diagnose canine influenza, veterinarians employ a combination of clinical assessment and specific diagnostic tests. Initially, a thorough examination is conducted, focusing on symptoms consistent with dog flu, such as coughing, nasal discharge, and fever. To confirm the presence of the virus, specialized tests like the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test are used, which detect the virus’s RNA in respiratory secretions. Occasionally, antibody tests may be performed to identify recent or past infections. It’s crucial for the vet to differentiate canine influenza from other respiratory diseases, ensuring an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Can humans catch canine flu from dogs?

Current evidence suggests that canine influenza is species-specific and primarily affects dogs. There have been no confirmed cases of humans contracting canine influenza from dogs. The virus strains responsible for dog flu, H3N8, and H3N2, have not shown the ability to infect humans. However, it’s always important to practice good hygiene around pets, especially when they are sick, to prevent the potential spread of other diseases. Monitoring ongoing research and updates from veterinary health organizations is advisable for the latest information on canine influenza and its interspecies transmission risks.

Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? We’re here to help! Contact us, your local animal clinic in St. Lucie County, FL! For comprehensive health assessments and diagnosis, consider our Veterinary Diagnostics services.

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