fbpx Skip to Content

Can Dogs Catch The Flu?

Can Dogs Catch The Flu?

If you ever asked yourself “can dogs catch the flu”, know that the answer, unfortunately, is a clear yes! Thankfully, it isn’t fatal in most cases, but it can make your pup feel sick and exhausted. It’s important to educate yourself on the symptoms, the prevention, and treatment. In that way you’ll know how to help your dog when they need it.

Sometimes it can be tricky to actually recognize that your pup caught the flu. The symptoms can be very mild and in most cases no treatment will be necessary. Sadly, in some cases it can be a bit more severe.

If you want to learn more about how the flu affects dogs and how dogs can catch the flu, keep on reading.

What causes dog flu?

The dog flu (also known as canine influenza) is a respiratory disease. It’s caused by an influenza A virus. The two most common ones are:

  • H3N8
  • H3N2

The first one, H3N8, originated in horses. The virus jumped from horses to dogs. The first outbreak happened in 2004 in Florida.

The second one, H3N2 originated in birds. The first outbreak was in 2015 in the Midwest and it continues to spread to this day.

Dogs can catch the flu from two different strains of viruses
There are two different types of virus strains that cause the dog flu.

How does the dog flu spread?

The canine influenza is an airborne infection. That basically means that dogs get infected from respiratory secretions from the environment. Those respiratory secretions can the result of coughing, barking, sneezing. However, your dog needs to inhale them.

Besides this, the other way to spread the infection is through contaminated objects. For example: water or food bowls, infected collars or dog clothing, different surfaces…

Certainly, the highest chance for your dog to get infected is in crowded places. For instance: dog parks, dog day care centers, at the groomer… Dogs are the most contagious during the incubation stage of the infection.

What are the symptoms of the dog flu?

There are different symptoms that dogs with the flu could have. They range from mild to severe. The most common ones, however, are:

  1. Coughing
  2. Sneezing
  3. Fever
  4. Runny eyes and nose
  5. Difficulty breathing
  6. Lethargy

Although, in most cases the symptoms are mild, you still need to be on the outlook. In most cases, dogs will have very mild symptoms so you won’t even know that they are sick. However, some dogs even develop pneumonia. Also, the dog flu isn’t a seasonal disease. It’s active throughout the whole year.

Golden retriever tired from the flu
Lethargy is one possible symptom of the dog flu.

What’s the treatment for dog flu?

There is no actual cure. It’s caused by a virus, so the treatment is symptomatic. Your vet will advise you, however, to keep your canine friend as comfortable as possible. Also, the same rules that apply to us, apply to them to. Therefore, your pup will need a lot of rest, fluids and some medications to reduce the fever.

However, if there is a secondary bacterial infection, your vet will clearly prescribe some antibiotics.

It’s also important to keep your dog quarantined, so the virus is not spread around. Every dog is unique and will therefore need a different treatment, and for that reason it’s best to always contact your vet. Undoubtedly, they’ll advice you with the best possible options for your dog.

Golden retriever at the veterinarian while his owner wonders can dogs catch the flu
Always discuss with your vet the best possible options for flu treatment.

How to prevent dog flu?

If we learned anything during the previous year it’s that the best way to prevent a contagious disease is to avoid public places.

There are also vaccines available for dogs, for both of the virus strains. Evidently, your vet will be the one advising you on the best options for you and your dog.

If you’re wondering if dogs can get COVID 19, read this.