Achoo! What You Need to Know About Dog Flu


Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our August/September issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

If you’re like me, you spend the winter obsessively washing your hands and avoiding anyone with the slightest sniffle. The human flu season winds down come spring, but dog flu can spread year round.

Sick dog by Shutterstock.
Sick dog by Shutterstock.

Here’s what you need to know about dog flu:

How dangerous is it?

Signs include a cough, fever, sneezing, and discharge from the nose and eyes. Some dogs develop secondary pneumonia, and a small number of dogs have died as a result. This is a rare. Most dogs recover in two to three weeks.

Is my dog at risk?

It depends. Flu is transmitted between dogs in places like boarding facilities and dog parks. If your area is experiencing an outbreak, you might avoid such places for a while.

Can my dog get a flu shot?

Vaccines are available for one strain of dog flu (H3N8), but a recent outbreak in the Midwest was caused by a new strain (H3N2), and there’s no vaccine yet. Depending on where you live, a vaccine might be a good idea. Talk to your vet.

Can humans get dog flu?

No, but it appears that cats can contract the new H3N2 strain. That’s very rare, though.

For updates about dog flu, visit the CDC website.

Read more on dog flu: 

About the author: Melissa L. Kauffman often goes by Mel to friends and canines alike. She lives in North Carolina with her two forever puppies, Tampa Bay and Justice; two feisty parrots, Deacon and Carlisle; a betta fish named Edgar Allan; and her husband, Scott. Mel is the group editor for Dogster Magazine.

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