A Dog Can Get The Flu
12 June, 2012

A friend of mine has a dog, Popcorn, who was very ill last weekend.   He had a fever, was dehydrated and her Mom was (rightly so) very scared.  From what I heard, it sounded like a canine flu.  I wanted to do more research on the canine flu to see if I could help her or any other dogs and their owners who might have had the same experience.

Definition of the canine flu

Referred to as H3N8 and H3N2, the first report of the ‘dog flu’ was found in Florida. The greyhound found to have this virus was tested and results showed this was the same strain found in horses. Since the 2004 report, it has swept through many other states. It is thought that the dogs that are have been at boarding facilities, dog pounds, humane societies, and dog shelters are at a higher risk.

Symptoms of the canine flu

If your dog has a low grade fever, discharge from his or her nose, sneezing, and a cough that mimics a kennel cough, it is likely he or she has the above flu. The cough could last up to three weeks. These are the milder severity of the symptoms. In more severe cases, a dog could experience higher grades of fever (103 to 106 degrees) and trouble breathing. There is also a high possibility that pneumonia could occur.

I have the flu and it sucks!

Your vet should be visited

As always, take your dog to the vet if the symptoms last more than twenty four hours.   Your vet will most likely take a blood test to decipher if your dog has the flu.   However, this particular flu will show up seven days after the symptoms begin. It is a blood test that will show antibodies to the virus.


Though many dogs recover without any treatment, some cases get more complicated and pneumonia sets in. Your dogs overall health before the virus will also be a factor as to how sickly your dog will be with this virus. When pneumonia sets in, antibiotics are required. Most times the antibiotics are given orally for two weeks. On occasion the severity of the virus may require the dog to need intravenous antibiotics and fluids, which generally requires hospitalization (but this is in only severe cases!)

Vaccine for Canine Influenza

Canine influenza which is caused by strain H3N8 now has a vaccine. Though it is not a required vaccine for all dogs, it is recommended in places where the disease is of higher risk, such as those residing in: Virginia, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Florida.  Also, you should discuss with your vet a supplement to boost your dogs immune and respiratory systems.

As in humans, there are many different strains of the flu. As always, take your dog to the vet if the symptoms last more than one to two days.  And, with any canine flu, it is very important to keep your dog hydrated, dry and warm too.

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