Information About Canine Influenza

We wanted to take a moment to inform you about a new virus called canine influenza. You may have seen stories on the news or read about “dog flu” outbreaks in recent months.  We want to make sure that you are educated about what the dog flu is, what the risks are to your pet and what you can do to best protect your pet from contracting canine influenza. 

What Is Canine Influenza?

Canine influenza is a relatively new disease and can be caused by two different canine influenza virus strains, H3N8 and H3N2. Both strains of canine influenza virus cause respiratory disease in dogs.  The signs and symptoms that your pet may have contracted canine influenza appear similar to those seen in many other respiratory diseases.  Affected dogs may develop coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy and loss of appetite.  The good news is that with proper medical attention, most dogs will recover from canine influenza.  However, in some cases, canine influenza can progress to a more severe or even life threatening condition, such as pneumonia.  Older pets and pets that are immuno-compromised (taking steroids for example) are more susceptible to the disease.   

What Is The Risk To My Pet?

Canine influenza is highly contagious and can quickly spread through high-density dog populations.  The disease is spread by:

  • Direct contact with infected dogs (sniffing, licking, nuzzling)
  • Through the air, (barking, coughing or sneezing)
  • Having contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls or even an infected dog’s owner’s clothing. 

Visiting places where dogs socialize or congregate puts your pet at a higher risk to come in contact with an infected dog. Places such as:

  • Doggie day care facilities
  • Dog parks
  • Boarding facilities
  • Apartment Lobby’s/Courtyards 
  • Family Gatherings With Family Member’s Pets
  • Just being out-and-about in public and having contact with other dogs

Infected dogs can shed the disease for up to 24 days and may not be showing symptoms!

What Can I Do To Protect My Pet?

The best way to protect your dog from canine influenza is through vaccination.  There are vaccines available for each canine influenza strain, H3N8 and H3N2.  The initial vaccination requires two doses of each vaccine, given 2 to 4 weeks apart.  After that, an annual booster for each influenza strain is needed for continued protection. 

Get Your Pet Vaccinated!

We recommend vaccinating dogs against both canine influenza strains and have vaccines available. Please ask the veterinary technician or doctor if you have any additional questions.

Our recommendation follows those of Veterinary Immunologists such as Dr. Ronald Schultz who is a Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Madison and has been involved in some of the earliest testing and detection of the new H3N2 virus.  Recommendations from the UW Veterinary School can be found here.

To schedule an appointment to have your dog vaccinated or if you have questions about Canine Influenza Virus, call us at 608-294-9494 or  Email us.


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Healthy Pet Veterinary Clinic


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