Highly contagious canine influenza, or dog flu, can affect dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status. It is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV) and can occur year-round. Almost all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, and the majority (80% of infected dogs) develop flulike illness. CIV is not contagious to people.
The canine influenza virus travels from infected dogs to uninfected dogs through:
• Direct contact
• Coughing, barking and sneezing
• Contaminated objects: clothing, kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes
• People handling or moving between infected and uninfected dogs
Range from mild to severe: persistent coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, lethargy, reduced appetite and fever
Secondary bacterial infection can develop and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia.
• Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s risk of exposure and if the canine influenza vaccine is right for your dog
• Avoid exposing your dog to obviously sick dogs
• If there is a CIV outbreak in your area, avoid taking your dog to areas where dogs gather
• If your dog shows signs of illness, isolate it from other dogs and seek veterinary care
• Wash your hands after handling any dog and especially after handling a sick dog
• Do not share equipment or toys between sick and apparently healthy dogs
• Provide supportive care to keep the dog as comfortable as possible
• Medications may be necessary for severe illness or secondary bacterial infections
Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks.