Canine Influenza

By April 10, 2015Pet Talk

pawsCanine Influenza FAQ

Q: What is canine influenza? A: Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is a lot like the flu that we get.

  • Mild Canine Influenza — Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may also be lethargic and have a reduced appetite and fever. Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose may also be observed. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the traditional “kennel cough” caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
  • Severe Canine Influenza — Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104ºF to 106ºF) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.

Because this is still an emerging disease, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no immunity. Virtually all dogs that are exposed to the virus become infected and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease. Fortunately, most affected dogs have the mild form.

Q: Do dogs die from canine influenza? A: Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with canine influenza virus have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is low (less than 10%). Most dogs with CI recover in 2-3 weeks.

Q: How widespread is the disease? A: The first recognized outbreak of canine influenza in the world is believed to have occurred in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in Florida. Since 2004 the canine influenza virus has been reported in 30 states and Washington, DC.  As of March 2015 there has been a severe outbreak of Canine Influenza in the greater Chicago area and Midwest that is likely to spread quickly.

Q: How is a dog with canine influenza treated? A: As with any disease caused by a virus, treatment is largely supportive. Good animal care practices and nutrition assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response.

The course of treatment depends on your pet’s condition, including the presence or absence of a secondary bacterial infection, pneumonia, dehydration, or other medical issues. Your veterinarian might prescribe medications, such as an antibiotic (to fight secondary infections) and/or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (to reduce fever, swelling and pain). Dehydrated pets may need fluid therapy to restore and maintain hydration.  Other medications, or even hospitalization, may also be necessary for more severe cases.

Q: Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to humans? A: To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people, or from dogs to other animals (cats, horses, ferrets, or other species).

Q: Do I need to be concerned about putting my dog in day care or boarding it at a kennel? A: Dog owners should be aware that any situation that brings dogs together increases the risk of spread of communicable illnesses. This includes boarding and grooming facilities, dog parks, and dog friendly stores.

If going to a dog communal area, or visiting an area known to have Canine Influenza, make sure the pet is vaccinated against this virus.  As long as good infection control practices are in place, pet owners should not be overly concerned about putting dogs in training facilities, dog parks, kennels, or other areas frequented by dogs.

Q: My dog has a cough…what should I do? A: Consult your veterinarian. Coughing can be caused by many different medical problems, and your veterinarian can examine and evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

Q: How is Canine Influenza spread? Canine influenza virus can be spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, and by contact with contaminated inanimate objects. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease should not or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to them. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent transmission of infection to susceptible dogs. Clothing can be adequately cleaned by using a detergent at normal laundry temperatures.

Q: How can I prevent Canine Influenza? A: Viral disease is usually best prevented through vaccination. A vaccine against canine influenza (H3N8) has been available since 2009. It is considered a “lifestyle” vaccine, which means that the decision to vaccinate a dog against CIV is based on the risk of exposure. A veterinarian should determine which vaccinations are needed based on related risks and benefits and should administer these at least one month prior to planned visits to dog activity and care facilities (e.g., kennels, veterinary clinics, dog day care centers, training facilities, dog parks).

Canine Influenza FAQ: Questions, Answers, and Interim Guidelines. (2015, April 7). Retrieved from

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