The Ultimate Guide To Canine Influenza Virus

canine influenza virus


Canine Influenza Virus, also known as dog flu, was first diagnosed in the United States in 2004.  Since then, the virus has spread across the United States. The dog flu is a Type A Influenza virus which is highly contagious and affects dogs and cats. 


Canine Influenza Virus Transmission:

  • Direct contact with infected dog
  • Aerosolization of virus particles from coughing, sneezing and barking
  • Contact with infected bowls, toys, bedding, leashes, and cages
  • People who have been in contact with infected dogs

People’s hands, shoes, and clothing are the most common items that spread the canine influenza virus.  Therefore, it is important to wear protective clothing when treating sick dogs.

100% of dogs exposed to canine influenza become infected, 80% of dogs develop clinical symptoms while 20% of dogs do not show clinical signs but still shed the virus and spread the infection.

Canine Influenza Virus Signs:

  • A persistent cough that lasts 10-21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Death – less than 10% of infected dogs


Because symptoms of canine influenza are similar to kennel cough, it is impossible to diagnose by symptoms alone.  Laboratory tests are available to confirm the presence of the virus.


Unfortunately, there is little known about the use of anti-viral medications in dogs, so treatment is largely supportive care.  Most dogs fully recover from canine influenza within 2-3 weeks.  Dogs that develop complications from the dog flu may need:

  • Antibiotics
  • Fluid therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

To prevent transmission of canine influenza, infected dogs need to be isolated from all other dogs for four weeks.  The virus can persist in the environment for two days but is easily killed with common disinfectants.

The good news is that there are vaccines available to prevent the transmission from dog to dog.   Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for cats.  Vaccination is the key to controlling Canine Influenza Virus.  Dr. Anna Coffin recommends vaccinations for dogs that interact or socialize at the following venues:

  • Boarding facilities
  • Dog daycares
  • Shelters
  • Rescues
  • Pet stores
  • Adoption groups
  • Breeding facilities
  • Groomers
  • Dog shows.

The initial vaccine needs to be followed by a booster in 3-4 weeks.  Immunity is achieved two weeks after the second booster.  Dogs should receive an annual booster.  Because Canine Influenza Virus is approaching the state of Oklahoma, Guthrie Pet Hospital will be providing vaccinations to patients at risk for exposure.  Use this risk calculator to see if your dog is at risk.  Call today or use our convenient appointment form to schedule your appointment to protect your pet.

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