As a pet owner, it’s important to stay informed on the latest developments in canine health. One topic that has received increased attention as of late is canine influenza, also known as dog flu. This highly contagious respiratory infection can be serious or even life-threatening if not treated quickly and properly, leading many pet owners to ask: What is canine influenza and what should they know about it? In this blog post, we aim to answer those questions by providing an overview of the virus and its symptoms, as well as how best to protect your pup from potential exposure.

#1: You are unlikely to give the flu to your dog

While dogs can contract the flu, the probability of your pet falling ill because you had the virus is low. Canine influenza is caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs, not people. 

#2: Canine influenza can cause similar signs as other upper respiratory conditions

Many upper respiratory conditions show similar signs, leading to the umbrella term of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC). The most common pathogens associated with CIRDC are canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV), canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), canine herpesvirus type 1 (CHV-1), canine influenza virus (CIV), and Bordetella bronchiseptica (i.e., kennel cough). 

Canine influenza signs can include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge

Most dogs recover without a problem within a few weeks, but fatalities can occur. Dogs with compromised immune systems or those with concurrent conditions are more likely to develop severe illness.

#3: Canine influenza is highly contagious

Like the human flu, canine influenza is extremely contagious. An infected dog can share the virus by coughing and sneezing, and while you cannot give your dog the flu, you can infect them with the canine influenza virus if you carry the pathogen home on your hands or clothes.

#4: Canine influenza is a year-round problem

Many human flu cases typically occur when the weather turns cold and people spend more time indoors. However, canine influenza can plague dogs year-round. Isolated local outbreaks can crop up and spread like wildfire through boarding facilities, dog parks, and doggy daycare centers. Dogs who are exposed to the virus can then easily spread it.

While most dogs recover without problems from canine influenza, prevention through vaccination is recommended for at-risk dogs. If your furry pal boards frequently, attends doggy daycare, or socializes with other dogs, contact our team for direction.