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What really is canine influenza? (Dog Flu Symptoms & Treatment)

Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Dogs Vets

What really is canine influenza (dog flu)?


Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease caused by Type A influenza viruses that are known to affect canines. This is referred to as “canine influenza viruses.” Canine influenza infections in humans have never been recorded.

There are two distinct types of influenza A dog flu viruses: H3N8 and H2N2.

Canine influenza A(H3N2) viruses are distinct from the human seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses that circulate each year.


Can canine influenza viruses infect humans?

In general, it is believed that canine influenza viruses represent a low risk to humans.

To present, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza viruses from dogs to humans, and no cases of human infection with a canine influenza virus have been recorded in the United States or anywhere else in the globe.

In 2016, the CDC evaluated the possible pandemic risk of canine influenza H3N2 viruses using the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool and determined it to be low.

However, influenza viruses are in a constant state of evolution, and it is plausible that a canine influenza virus may evolve so that it could infect humans and travel easily between humans.

Infections of humans with novel (new, non-human) influenza A viruses against which the human population has minimal immunity are cause for concern due to the possibility of a pandemic.

Due to this, the global surveillance system of the World Health Organization has led to the identification of human infections caused by novel influenza A viruses of animal origin (such as avian or swine influenza A viruses), but no human infections caused by canine influenza A viruses have been identified to date.


How long have canine influenza viruses existed and where did they originate?

Canine influenza The H3N8 virus started in horses, transferred to dogs, and is now capable of spreading between canines. Horses have been known to have H3N8 equine influenza (horse flu) viruses for more than 40 years.

In 2004, the United States reported incidences of an unknown respiratory disease in dogs (originally greyhounds).

A research revealed that horse influenza A(H3N8) viruses caused this respiratory disease.

Scientists believe this virus jumped species (from horses to dogs) and adapted to cause sickness in dogs and spread among canines, particularly those in kennels and animal shelters. This H3N8 virus is now regarded to be dog-specific, or canine-specific.

In September 2005, specialists in the United States recognized this virus as a “newly emerging disease in the dog population.” It has been identified in dogs across a significant portion of the United States.

Canine influenza Originating in birds, H3N2 viruses have since moved to dogs and can now transfer between dogs. Also noted is the transmission of H3N2 canine influenza viruses from sick dogs to cats.

Canine influenza A H3N2 viruses were initially found in dogs in South Korea in 2007, and canines have also been reported in China, Thailand, and Canada.

In April 2015, H3N2 canine influenza viruses were initially isolated in the United States; they have now been identified in over 30 states.

Until now, the H3N2 canine viruses discovered in the United States have been nearly genetically identical to those previously reported only in Asia.

How does canine influenza affect dogs imported into the United States from other countries?

The H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza viruses are now regarded to be prevalent in canines in the United States. In addition, there are currently no indications that canine influenza affects humans or has pandemic potential.

If there was proof that canine influenza viruses might infect humans with the potential for sustained human-to-human transmission, the CDC would use its current authorities to limit the importation and/or spread of this pandemic strain into or within the United States.

According to CDC standards, dogs must be healthy to enter the United States; therefore, dogs that appear to be unwell with a communicable disease such as canine influenza may be denied entrance or evaluated further.

The CDC may require a veterinary examination at the owner’s expense for sick-appearing dogs or necropsies (animal autopsies) for dogs that are deceased upon entry into the United States.

When entering the United States, multiple authorities may have regulatory control over pets such as dogs and cats.

The CDC collaborates closely with other federal agencies to safeguard U.S. borders against human diseases transmitted by animals and animal products.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has animal health criteria for bringing (importing) a dog from a foreign nation into the United States.


What is the CDC’s stance on canine influenza?

Current CDC restrictions for influenza viruses only apply to viruses with pandemic potential in humans. However, the CDC is taking a number of precautions in the unlikely event that canine influenza becomes a threat to people or other animals.

First, the CDC continues to conduct year-round surveillance for seasonal and novel influenza A viruses, and all novel influenza.

A infections in humans are thoroughly studied. Human infections with a unique animal-origin influenza.

A virus are reportable to the CDC; to yet, no human infections with canine influenza viruses have been recorded.

Secondly, the CDC and USDA APHIS VS have established standards for collaboration in the case of outbreaks of new influenza A viruses.

In the event of a canine influenza outbreak with suspected human illnesses,

these same processes would be implemented.

Using the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool, the CDC evaluated the pandemic potential of canine H3N2 viruses and determined it to be low risk.


What are the symptoms of canine influenza?

Symptoms of this disease in dogs include cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and decreased appetite, though not all dogs may exhibit these symptoms.

The severity of the sickness associated with canine influenza in dogs can range from no symptoms to severe pneumonia and even death.

Most canines recover in two to three weeks. Nonetheless, some dogs may develop secondary bacterial infections, which may result in a more serious sickness and pneumonia.

Contact your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s health or if your pet is exhibiting symptoms of canine influenza.


What is the severity of canine influenza?

The death rate among dogs affected with this disease is extremely low.

Some dogs have silent infections (no symptoms of sickness), whereas others have severe infections accompanied by severe illness. The beginning of pneumonia is indicative of a severe illness.


How does the dog flu virus spread?

Almost all dogs are susceptible to canine influenza, and the virus prefers to spread around kennels and animal shelters.

It is believed that canine influenza is transmitted mostly through respiratory droplets produced by coughing and sneezing sick dogs or through contact with contaminated surfaces.

Therefore, dog owners whose pets exhibit coughing or other indicators of respiratory disease should not expose their pets to other dogs or cats.

Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands must be washed and disinfected following exposure to dogs exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms.


Available diagnostic test for canine influenza?

Available tests demonstrate H3N8 and H2 canine influenza virus infection in dogs. Your veterinarian can determine if testing is necessary.


How is canine influenza treated in dogs?

Supportive treatment helps keep the dog hydrated and comfortable while its body generates an immunological response to the infection to aid in its recovery.

In the milder version of the disease, basic care may involve administering medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to keep your dog hydrated. Your veterinarian may prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics if a subsequent bacterial infection is suspected.


Vaccination against canine influenza?

In the United States, both H3N8 and H3N2 canine influenza vaccinations are available. Your veterinarian can provide further information about these vaccines and whether or not you should vaccinate your dog.



Questions People are asking 


Is the canine influenza vaccine necessary?

Vaccination reduces a dog’s likelihood of developing canine influenza.

Vaccination may not completely prevent infection, but it may lessen the severity and length of the disease. The canine influenza vaccine is not advised for all dogs because it is a “lifestyle” vaccine.


How can I determine whether my dog has canine influenza?

Mild form – Dogs with the mild form of canine influenza experience a dry cough that lasts between 10 and 30 days. They may also exhibit lethargy, a diminished appetite, and a fever. Also possible are sneezing and drainage from the eyes and/or nose.


How are kennel cough and canine influenza dissimilar?

Dog Flu, also known as canine influenza virus, is a viral condition that is more difficult to treat than kennel cough, also known as canine cough.

Kennel cough is an antibiotic-responsive bacterial illness. The Dog Flu, on the other hand, is an incurable infection.


How long is the dog influenza vaccine effective?

Proper vaccination with both strains of the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) vaccine requires two rounds of shots administered two to four weeks apart, followed by an annual booster.


Can humans contract dog flu?

Both varieties are highly contagious and easily transmitted between dogs. The H3N2 strain is even transmissible between cats. However, neither strain is transmissible to or from people. Your dog cannot contract influenza from you.


Do dogs really require so many vaccinations?

Pets should receive core immunizations, which are medically important for all animals, and may require additional vaccinations based on their lifestyle.

There are dangers associated with all medications, but the advantages of vaccinating pets outweigh the risks. Vaccinations protect pets from life-threatening and debilitating diseases such as rabies and distemper.


What destroys the canine influenza virus?

Standard disinfectants seen in veterinary hospitals are highly effective against canine influenza (eg, quaternary ammonium compounds, bleach solutions at a 1 to 30 dilution, or potassium peroxymonosulfate).


Canine influenza and Bordetella: are they identical?

Both conditions are very contagious canine respiratory diseases. Kennel Cough is an umbrella term for numerous viral or bacterial diseases.

This umbrella word includes viruses such as Bordatella, Parainfluenza, and Adenovirus-2. Meanwhile, two distinct virus strains create the Influenza Virus.


Does canine influenza necessitate quarantine?

Given that H3N2 can be excreted for up to four weeks, the AVMA advises isolating sick and contact dogs for up to four weeks (AVMA 2018).


Can a fully immunized dog contract parvo?

A puppy may develop unwell if exposed to canine parvovirus during this protection gap.

A further concern is that the protection supplied by breast milk may hinder an adequate vaccine response. This means that even vaccinated puppies are occasionally susceptible to parvovirus infection and illness.


My dog is coughing. What am I to do?

Consult with your veterinarian to determine if an appointment is necessary so he or she may examine your dog and propose an appropriate treatment plan.



Where can I obtain additional information about canine influenza viruses?


The following links provide additional information on canine influenza in pet dogs.



Facts Check


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