What is Dog Flu?
Dog flu is respiratory disease that is a relatively new strain of canine influenza viruses. This virus, belonging to the influenza A family, is a mutated strain of an equine influenza virus that has been detected in horses for more than 40 years. It was first reported in January 2004 at a greyhound track in Florida. Since then, it has been reported in as many as 18 other states. Dogs in shelters, humane societies, and boarding facilities are at particular risk and are often vaccinated.
There have been confirmed cases in 30 States in the U.S. Dogs are highly susceptible to the disease since they have no immunity from prior infections. These viral infections are easily spread among dogs.
The Rate of Infection Can Reach 100%, with 80% Showing Symptoms.
Canine Influenza Podcast Update from the
Dogs can only catch the flu from other dogs. It is transmitted through the air, usually by dogs coughing or sneezing on each other. If your dog has not been around any other dogs in the past week or so, then he can’t have the flu.
The incubation period in most cases is 2 to 5 days. Infected dogs can spread the flu for 7 to 10 days after symptoms appear. Dogs that show no clinical signs of canine influenza can also spread the disease.
Humans cannot catch the flu from dogs; it is a different strain of flu that infect dogs.
Source: Cornell University Baker Institute for Animal Health
Dog flu symptoms in its mild form include sneezing, nasal discharge, runny discharge from the eyes, lack of energy, reduced appetite, low grade fever, and a persistent cough and stuffy nose that can last for up to three weeks. It can resemble kennel cough and other respiratory diseases. Because of the similarity of the two diseases, it is recommended to dog owners that a "better safe than sorry" approach be taken, with an immediate trip to the veterinarian for evaluation.
Cough can persist for 2 to 3 weeks. Nasal discharge is more likely than sneezing. Most dogs recover with no complications.
In severe cases, high grade fever (104 - 106 degrees) difficulty breathing (increased respiratory rate). Secondary bacterial pneumonia may set in if left untreated.
States With Dog Flu Reports (as of 2/10/2023)
One or both strains of dog flu have been seen in 46 U.S. states.
There are two types of tests available for dog flu. In dogs that have been ill for less than 4 days, a veterinarian can collect swabs from the nose. In dogs that have been. There is a blood test that is only accurate seven days after the onset of symptoms that will show antibodies to the flu virus, meaning that your dog’s body is fighting off the virus, but that doesn’t help if you take your dog to the vet when he first gets sick. The other method uses Given the need to wait the seven days, your veterinarian will probably make a preliminary diagnosis based on the symptoms and medical history you provide.
If he has been around another infected dog, and he has symptoms of the flu, then he may well have the flu. Since treatment for the flu is similar to treatment for many other respiratory infections, having an exact diagnosis may not really matter anyway.
There is no treatment since canine influenza is a viral infection. It just needs to move through its infectious cycle, which is usually 7 days. Most dogs infected will recover without any treatment. The virus will simply run its course. Keep your dog warm and dry. She may not have much or an appetite, but encourage her to drink plenty of water.
In some cases, secondary infections like pneumonia may set in. In these cases, antibiotics are required. These are given orally, usually for 14 days. Your vet may want to give your dog antibiotics anyway, just in case he has something besides the flu virus.
In very severe cases, dogs may require intravenous fluids and antibiotics. This will require hospitalization which is unusual.
Dog influenza is not usually fatal. IF left untreated, it can lead to more serious life-threatening pneumonia. 6 to 8% of dogs that get dog flu will die from the disease if left untreated. In these cases the disease is characterized as pneumonia. Most cases (80%) are mild. The mortality rate of 2% is seen primarily in dogs that have underlying diseases, have a weak immune system or are in poor condition according to VIN News.
There are three dog influenza vaccines. One is for H3N8 and one is for H3N2 and another covers both types (a bivalent vaccine). The vaccines are made out of killed vaccines, so vaccinated dogs will not shed virus. They do not provide 100% protection (like human flu vaccines). Also like human vaccines, vaccinated dogs may have milder symptoms. Many veterinarians do not recommend the canine influenza vaccine unless a dog is at high risk. This might include dogs that frequently are exposed to other dogs such as in dog parks or kennels.
The vaccine requires two doses, 2 to 4 weeks apart, followed by revaccination. Often dogs that are vaccinated for kennel cough are vaccinated for canine influenza as well. Most dog shelters and veterinarians offer the vaccine a low cost ($35 to $45).
The dog flu vaccine is a killed viral vaccine, so there is no potential for the vaccine to cause the canine influenza virus by itself. It is safe for dogs 6 weeks of age or older. Like other dog influenza vaccines, it may not prevent infection of the dog, but will reduce the severity of the clinical disease, it will reduce the progression of the disease to pneumonia, and reduce the time that a dog can spread the disease to other dogs.
Facts About Canine Influenza (PDF Download)
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Facts on Canine Influenza
University of Illinois
College of Veterinary Medicine
“Canine Influenza Backgrounder”.
of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
Rubenstein, Carin. “Virulent Dog Virus Hits Area Kennels”.
New York Times. 25 September 2005.
“Control of Canine Influenza in
Dogs-Questions, Answers, and
AVMA. 2005. 20 April 2006.
“Transmission of Equine Influenza Virus to Dogs”
“Fast Facts on Canine Influenza” Pet Columns at CVM at UIUC