Canine influenza, or dog flu, can be a serious risk to dog health.Nobody wants to get the flu, but the threat looms over us all once the cool weather returns. Luckily, humans have everything from herbal teas to vitamin supplements to vaccines to help us decrease our chances of getting the flu. However, when it comes to canine influenza (also known as “dog flu”), things aren’t quite so simple.

The virus, which made its appearance in the U.S. in 2005, can spread quickly with little or no warning. More than 2,600 dogs have been diagnosed with canine influenza in 2018; because many pets remain asymptomatic, the number of actual cases is surely much higher. At Highway Veterinary Hospital, we want to make sure every owner knows how to protect their dog from this troubling virus.

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the type A influenza virus. Common symptoms include:

  • Mild coughing
  • Discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

Veterinarians usually diagnose dog flu once the owner observes the above symptoms. Sometimes, the disease is diagnosed after multiple dogs experience a sudden onset of symptoms after being together in the same area.

Dog Flu: Not Just for Dogs Anymore?

Influenza viruses receive great attention by both human and animal health care professionals due to their ability to spread rapidly and chances of animal-to-human transmission.

  • All influenza A viruses originate in wild birds and waterfowl; some can be transmitted to other types of animals.
  • A change in a horse influenza virus caused the first canine influenza outbreak in North America in the early 2000’s.
  • Cases of dog-to-human transmission of influenza have been reported.
  • Cats are susceptible to many avian and human influenza viruses.

Protect Your Pet

The number one way to protect your pet is to have them vaccinated. At Highway Veterinary Hospital, we currently use the bivalent vaccine, which protects against both strains of canine influenza found in North America. We’ve incorporated it into our puppy series and consider it a core vaccine.

You can also reduce your pet’s risk of infection by carefully monitoring situations where your dog is in close contact with other animals (e.g., dog parks, doggie daycares, boarding facilities). Don’t allow your dog to play with another dog who appears sick. If your dog begins displaying symptoms, please call us right away, and quarantine your pet inside your home until your appointment.

Please don’t hesitate to contact our team with additional questions about canine influenza.