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Canine Flu

February 1, 2023

Did you know that your canine companion can get the flu? In fact, there’s an outbreak going on now. Fido’s version, canine influenza virus (CIV)–also often called the dog flu—is an influenza A virus. There are several strains, but the two that are most common in the US are H3N8 and H3N2. These strains are both extremely contagious, and are the culprits behind the current outbreak. A local vet offers some information on this below.


If Fido gets the flu, he’ll likely have many of the same symptoms as you would, such as coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Of these, coughing is the most common. It may also be the most persistent. That said, our furry friends all react differently to the flu. Some pups will not show any symptoms at all. Other dogs may bounce back after a few days, or stay sick for weeks. A few will become severely ill. In rare cases, dog flu can be fatal. Senior dogs and pooches with chronic illnesses and/or immune deficiencies are at highest risk.


Fido’s flu can spread extremely quickly. The virus is transmitted through droplets of saliva, and can remain active in respiratory droplets on surfaces for several hours. Pups can easily contract it through shared toys or dishes. Fido could also get sick by greeting or nose-booping another pooch, or even just by sniffing a stick at a park that a sick dog played with hours ago. 

Dogs that have contracted the flu remain contagious for about a month. As one can imagine, places like dog parks, daycares, grooming salons, and kennels can quickly become hotspots of contagion. Another potential source of spread? People! Someone who pets an infected dog and then a healthy one may quickly spread the illness from pooch to pooch. Be aware of the risks when taking Fido to different places. You can also track the current outbreak online here.


Unfortunately, there is no cure for the canine flu. In most cases, dogs recover on their own, though they may need some extra TLC. You’ll need to keep your furry pal comfy and hydrated, and monitor him carefully. If you know or suspect that your pup has the flu, reach out to your vet and ask for specific care tips. 

Our Advice on Canine Flu in 2024

What is the canine influenza virus (CIV), and what are its common strains in the US?

Canine influenza virus (CIV) is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs. In the US, the most prevalent strains are H3N8 and H3N2. Originating from horses and birds, these strains cause symptoms like cough, fever, and lethargy in affected dogs.

How do the symptoms of canine flu manifest in dogs?

Canine flu symptoms in dogs often mirror human flu symptoms. Dogs may exhibit coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Coughing is usually the most noticeable sign. Severity varies, with some dogs showing mild symptoms and others more severely affected.

How is canine flu transmitted between dogs?

Canine flu spreads primarily through respiratory droplets when dogs bark, cough, or sneeze. It’s also transmissible via shared objects like toys or water bowls and through human touch after handling an infected dog. Close contact in places like dog parks elevates the risk of transmission.

What are familiar places where canine flu can spread rapidly?

Canine flu spreads rapidly in areas where dogs congregate closely. This includes dog parks, kennels, daycare facilities, grooming salons, and dog shows. In such environments, the proximity of dogs and shared items like bowls and toys facilitate quick virus transmission.

Is there a cure for canine flu?

Currently, there is no cure for canine flu. Treatment focuses on supportive care to manage symptoms. This includes ensuring proper hydration, nutrition, and rest. Medications may sometimes be prescribed to alleviate symptoms or prevent secondary infections. Early veterinary intervention is critical.

Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your local animal clinic in Newburgh, NY! We’re here to help!