The Dog Owner’s Guide to Canine Influenza

By the time scientists at Cornell University and University of Wisconsin identified a virulent strain of canine influenza in 2015, it had sickened over 1,000 dogs in the Chicagoland area. Canine influenza continues to make an appearance each year, affecting pets in nearly every state.

Take a moment to learn more about canine influenza and how you can protect your furry loved ones.

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza, also known as dog flu, is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection caused by the Type A influenza virus. The two strains that affect dogs are:

H3N8 – First identified in 2004 among racing greyhounds, this strain originated in horses but is now a dog-only virus.

H3N2 – This Asian strain appeared on the scene in 2015 and can affect cats as well as dogs.

Dog flu is spread through coughing and sneezing, and contact with items that an infected dog used, such as food and water bowls.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of canine influenza include:

  • Dry, hacking cough, or moist cough
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes
  • Fever (normal temperature for dogs is between 101-102 F)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fatigue

If you suspect your dog has the flu, separate them from other pets and give us a call right away. There’s no cure for canine influenza, so treatment for the disease is largely supportive and may include fluid replacement therapy, pain medication, and prevention/treatment of secondary infections.

Protecting Your Pet

Although most dogs infected with canine influenza don’t experience serious effects, we all want our pets to stay well, which is why it’s important to prevent your pet from coming into contact with the virus, whenever possible.

  • Vaccination is your dog’s best protection against both strains of canine influenza. Your veterinarian will be happy to discuss the current vaccination options available to your pet.
  • Make sure your dog stays healthy overall by providing a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise, taking your dog to their regularly scheduled wellness exams, and staying current on parasite preventives.
  • Before taking your dog to an area where other dogs congregate, such as a boarding kennel, dog park, doggie daycare, grooming salon, etc., check to make sure canine influenza hasn’t been a problem there, and that proper hygiene and sanitary practices are in place.
  • Practice good hygiene at home in the form of handwashing and regular cleaning and sanitizing of your pet’s bowls, toys, and bedding.

The continued good health of our beloved patients is our top priority at Mountainview Veterinary Hospital. Please give us a call if you have any questions or concerns about canine influenza.