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Canine influenza/Dog flu (CIV)/H3N8/H3N2

What is Dog Flu?

Dog flu infects the respiratory system and is highly contagious. There are 2 influenza viruses known as H3N8 and H3N2. Although the viruses originated in horses (H3N8) and birds (H3N2), it is not known to infect humans.

What are the symptoms of dog flu?

There are 2 strains of dog flu. Mild flu will give your dog a cough and nasal discharge with these symptoms lasting for 10-30 days. When a dog has severe flu the following symptoms are likely to develop quickly: –

  • High fever
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Red eyes
  • Pneumonia
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing


What are the causes of dog flu?

The virus is spread by coughing and sneezing of an infected dog. A dog can catch the virus from contaminated objects, materials or germs carried in the air soon after an infected dog has sneezed or coughed.

What are the risk factors of dog flu?

Dogs infected with the flu virus are most contagious during the 2-4 days prior to showing signs of the illness and may still be infectious for up to 10 days.  Dogs living in kennels and shelters are considered most at risk as it can spread quickly between animals living in close proximity to each other. Most dogs with mild flu make a full recovery, however, if they go on to develop pneumonia, the condition does become life threatening.

How is dog flu diagnosed?

In addition to your dog showing some or all of the above symptoms, your vet will want to undertake blood tests including a blood count.  A further blood test would need to be taken 2-3 weeks later to confirm diagnosis. The vet may also wish to take an x-ray to check for pneumonia.

What treatment is there for dog flu?

The mild form of dog flu is usually treated with cough suppressants, rest and isolation from other dogs. Antibiotics maybe prescribed if there is a secondary infection.

If your pet has the severe form, hospitalization will be necessary where he will receive antibiotics, fluids and any other supportive treatment needed.

How to prevent dog flu

A vaccine is available which may not entirely prevent the disease but will reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Avoid contact with any dog suspected of having the virus.   Dogs with the virus should be isolated from other dogs for at least 2 weeks. Dog’s known to have been exposed to an infected dog should also be isolated, even if they are not yet showing signs of infection.

As the virus can remain live in the environment for up to 48 hours, clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after coming into contact with a dog showing signs of flu.