What You Need To Know About The Latest Dog Flu Outbreak & Symptoms

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Sick dog on bed with fluIf you haven’t heard, a canine flu outbreak is spreading across the nation leaving plenty of pups feeling down in the dumps.

Speaking of outbreaks, you may be wondering if dogs can get infected with the novel human coronavirus, COVID-19 that’s spreading around the world. See the latest news in our article on coronavirus in dogs.

Article Overview


What Is Canine Flu?

The dog flu, or Canine Influenza Virus (CIV H3N2 or H3N8), is a highly contagious infection caused by an influenza virus and is transmitted by aerosolized respiratory secretions — think coughing and sneezing.

Causes: How Does A Dog Get The Flu?

Dog influenza can also be transmitted between dogs via contaminated objects such as food and water bowls, collars, leashes, toys, bedding, and through nose-to-nose contact between dogs.

The virus is able to live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for up to 12 hours.

What Dogs Are At Risk Of The Flu?

Dogs that are most susceptible to infection are those that spend a good deal of time around many other dogs during boarding, day care or play time at the dog park.


Dog Flu Symptoms

“Most infected dogs have mild clinical symptoms and it can be very hard to distinguish from other forms of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRD), a common type of kennel cough,” says Carrie Jelovich, DVM. So if your dog shows any of these symptoms, visit your veterinarian so they can test to confirm whether or not your dog has Canine Influenza H3N2.

Canine Flu Symptoms May Include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Nasal discharge – not just your dog’s normal wet nose
  • Fever
  • Eye discharge – look for goopy, mucus-like discharge or a noticeable increase if your dog normally has eye discharge
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced activity, lethargy

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of dog flu so you can seek treatment for your pet quickly.


Treating Dog Flu

The flu needs to run its course (15-30 days for mild cases). Treatment for canine flu is mostly supportive: fluids, rest and cough medicine prescribed by your vet. (Please don’t give human meds to dogs.) Very severe cases may require hospitalization or more intensive therapies.

Preventing Dog Flu

You may notice warning signs about the canine flu popping up at doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, veterinarian’s offices and even dog-friendly businesses. And for good reason: prevention is the best cure.

Here’s what you can do to help keep your pup from catching the bug and control the outbreak:

  • Stay home! Don’t you get annoyed when someone shows up to work hacking and sneezing all over the place? The same applies here: if your pooch is showing symptoms of dog flu, or has been diagnosed with canine influenza, keep them home and away from other dogs until they’re well. For the time being, you may want to limit your dog’s contact with other canines and avoid places where canine flu has been reported.
  • Speak up! If you absolutely must bring your dog to daycare or a boarding facility, ask if they’ve had any cases of dog flu and what they’re doing to prevent it from spreading. And visit your vet a few weeks prior to travel to determine whether the vaccine is a good option.
  • Wash your paws! If you can’t help petting every dog you see, wash up well before you spread the love – and the virus – to your own dog.

Video: Preventing Dog Flu

Here’s a recap of everything we’ve discussed and a little more about this flu and what to look out for from National Geographic.

A Few Dog Flu Facts

  • Dog flu is not usually fatal. Death rate is reported to be less than 10% among flu-infected dogs.
  • There is now a vaccine for both the H3N2 and the older H3N8 strains. Talk to your vet about the best option for you and your pup, especially if they spend a lot of time around other dogs.
  • You can’t catch the flu from your dog. This is highly unlikely since, according to the CDC, it would take a sizable cell mutation for a human infection from a dog CIV to infect you.
  • June 2018: A new strain was detected (H1N1) in dogs in China (no cases in the U.S. detected). This is related to the swine flu strain that infected humans in 2009. The CDC does not currently consider H1N1 or any other strain in dogs to be a threat for human infection. However, studies have shown it may be possible for the H1N1 virus to jump from dogs to cats.
  • May 2017: Canine flu H3N2 had shown up in dogs in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
  • The 2015 canine flu outbreak (H3N2) has been traced back to Chicago. This virus was transferred from birds to dogs.

Keep Your Dog Protected With Pet Insurance

A big, tail-wagging thank you to Carrie Jelovich, DVM, for her contributions to this article in July 2015. Dr. Jelovich cares for critters at the Lawndale Veterinary Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina.

As always, we can’t recommend getting dog insurance enough. It saves you from having to pay out of pocket expenses should an illness like dog flu arise unexpectedly.

Are you concerned your dog may have the flu?

About The Author:

Nicole Naviglia has been writing since she was 4 years old. Her first story was about her life in a Blue House filled with talking animals. Today, she writes for brands and blogs from home with her two canine assistants, Luna and Enzo. Nicole does all the talking.

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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Angela Waterford
October 17, 2019 9:16 am

Ever since I took my dog out to the park last week, he just keeps on staying in his bed all day. I never knew that the persistent cough he’s having is a sign that he has a flu. If I were to choose, I’ll take him to an emergency vet so he can be treated.

Kit Hannigan
October 9, 2018 7:08 pm

I’m glad that you mentioned how a persistent cough on top of nasal discharge can point to a dog flu. Our old dog really looked weak last night, and he started heaving coughs non-stop earlier today. Now I’m, he thinking he caught the flu, so I’ll be sure to go look for a reputable veterinary clinic that can have a look at him.

Carrie Rathburn
October 22, 2017 7:04 pm

My Rottweiler (Vinnie) has the flu!
It is day 3. This morning and all day he has trouble walking or just standing. And has a terrible limp. Could these just be muscle ache?

Daniel Abney
February 19, 2019 8:43 am

My dog has the same

August 22, 2017 4:08 am

Burning rosemary oil will sterilise the air

Tammy eggers
August 19, 2017 8:58 am

My dog is not coughing or sneezing .he got sick 4 times in a row. Diarrhea eye dranage shaking wont eat or drink .just laying around no normal hyper self

Jim ostendorf
September 2, 2017 7:54 pm
Reply to  Tammy eggers

Tammy. What did you do. Been to my vet 4 times. Never test for flu or cat flu.

Dog Owner
July 29, 2017 9:00 am

Death rate less than 10%: not very specific, could be less than 1% since any percentage between 0 and 9.9% is in that range. Flu has shown up in a number of states: how many reported cases are in these states? Just as the flu has been ridiculously over-hyped in people to benefit the vaccine industry even though not very effective, the same hype is happening with canines to boost income for veterinarians. The flu is rarely a problem for dogs or people.

October 20, 2017 5:57 pm
Reply to  Dog Owner

Hate to tell you, but here in Ohio in Oct. there is a major break out of canine flu. My dog currently has it and if there is a vaccine for it, my dog will be getting the vaccine. This flu is horrible! I do not want him to go through this again! We are into his third day into it. He won’t eat or drink. He has seen the vet and the vet and I agree my dog is better off at home with me caring for him. I keep him hydrated by giving him small amounts of pedialyte with a syringe type dispenser. He coughs until he throws up and is running a low grade fever. I periodically have him in the bathroom with lots of steam. it seems to help his choking cough.

May 31, 2017 11:11 pm

Have a 10 y/o Sheltie with a low immune system since birth and has had asthma since birth. I am very careful with him as to where he goes and other dogs he’s around. One month ago he was diagnosed with sinusitis and has been on 2 bouts antibiotics and takes c- tabs everyday as a precaution. He has brucellosis as well as h3n3 every year since 2012. Any suggestions, he’s not feeling well at this time….. No fever but lack of appetite and some extra tiredness, but I contribute that to the fact that we live in central Florida and it’s been in the 90s already. His time is limited to bein outside only to potty and if he wants to go outside for short periods.

I try to keep him as healthy as I can…… He is a show dog and would have been at both Perry, Ga and Deland, Fl as well as Miami in a few weeks had I not recently had surgery and I am off circuit for 6 months. I consider this to be gods will or we might be dealing with canine influenza.

V topper
June 12, 2017 9:02 pm
Reply to  Donna

Im not sure if u got replies…but i will chime in. Have 10yo bixer mix with immune issues, among other things. Had him on many supplements from great co called ‘only natural pet’…was doing ok, they have many excellant supplements that really work wonders. But then i tried vetri science ‘vetri dmg’. Its phenominal…my vet swears its keeping her oldest dog alive! Has done wonders for my boy. Replaced ALL other supplements. Good luck!