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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

What is the canine influenza virus (CIV), and what are the most common strains in the US?

Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), or dog flu, is an influenza A virus affecting dogs. The most common strains in the US are H3N8 and H3N2. Both are highly contagious and can cause respiratory illness, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe in our canine companions.

What symptoms might dogs show if they contract the flu, and how do they vary?

If a dog contracts the flu, symptoms may include coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Coughing is often the most common and persistent symptom. Severity varies greatly; some dogs show mild signs and recover quickly, while others may become severely ill.

How does the canine flu spread among dogs, and what are the risks in communal areas?

Canine flu spreads through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or close contact. Shared bowls and toys also pose a risk. In communal areas like dog parks and kennels, the virus can quickly be transmitted between dogs, putting these places at high risk for outbreaks.

How long can dogs with the flu remain contagious?

Dogs with the flu can remain contagious for about a month after contracting the virus. During this period, they can spread the infection to other dogs through direct contact, respiratory droplets, and contaminated surfaces. It’s crucial to isolate infected dogs to prevent widespread transmission.

What treatments are available for dogs with the flu, and what care should owners provide?

There is no cure for canine influenza. Treatment focuses on supportive care, including keeping the dog comfortable, hydrated, and monitored. Owners should consult their vet for specific care recommendations based on their dog’s condition.

Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? We’re here to help! Contact us, your local animal clinic in Waterdown, ON!

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