The Dog Flu (Canine Influenza Virus)

Article Series for Dunes Living Magazine – August 2019

Dr. Amanda Thomas

There are 2 different strains of the “Dog Flu” or CIV in the United States. They are the CIV H3N2 and CIV H3N8 strains. They are both highly contagious and cause serious respiratory infections in dogs that can lead to pneumonia and death.

The H3N8 virus was first reported in 2003 and affected greyhound dogs, but the virus originally came from horses.

The H3N2 virus is a bird flu (avian influenza) that has recently spread to dogs all over the United States.

There are vaccines for both of the above strains of influenza although the more commonly advised vaccine for your dog at this time is the H3N2 influenza virus vaccine.

Neither virus is infectious to humans but can spread easily in dogs. Because all unvaccinated dogs are susceptible to this contagious disease, the vaccination is highly recommended.

Any dog is at risk for dog flu regardless of their age, health status, sex or breed, because the flu is transmitted by casual contact. Sniffing, licking, sharing space, food or water bowls with other dogs in your neighborhood, at the dog park, the groomer’s office or at a day-care or boarding facility makes your dog more susceptible to the flu. The dog flu spreads just like the common cold does in humans.

The outward clinical signs your dog may show when he or she has been infected with the flu virus are:

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Fever or depression

If you suspect your dog may have a respiratory infection or is showing any symptoms of a respiratory infection, please contact your veterinarian’s office and Make An Appointment immediately.

Let the veterinary staff know you’re concerned about CIV so that your dog will be seen by a doctor right away.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and Cornell University are helping us to raise public awareness about this infectious disease and have more information on their websites (below). Pet owners can read about the origin of these viruses, the pathology of the infections, transmission, clinical signs, diagnosis, and prevention.

Please call your veterinary clinic today to have your dogs vaccinated against the dog flu!