It’s Flu Season For Dogs, Too

Here’s what you need to know to keep your pup healthy 🤧

Many people get sick this time of year, but it’s probably not our first thought that our pets could feel off, too. But, unfortunately, dogs can also get the flu.

While dogs can contract canine influenza, or dog flu, at any time during the year, there’s currently an outbreak of canine flu known as H3N2 happening around the country.

Occurring mostly in animal shelters and dog boarding facilities, experts have suggested the increase in dog flu is related to human behavior post-pandemic.

While animal adoption increased during the pandemic, the number of adoptions have gone down since then, leading to overcrowded shelters. To manage overpopulation, shelters will move dogs to other organizations with more space.

“There’s a tendency to move animals from one part of the country to another, or from one shelter to another,” Colin Parrish, a virologist at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and an expert on canine influenza, told The New York Times. “So the virus gets moved along with the dogs.”

Additionally, with the reopening of offices and people traveling again, dogs are spending more time together in doggy day cares and kennels, where the virus can easily spread.

While H3N2 doesn’t pose a risk to humans, and most dogs don’t become extremely ill after contracting it, the disease can progress to pneumonia and can even be fatal for a small percentage of dogs.

As we head into a hectic holiday season, veterinarians suggest pet parents know what dog flu symptoms to look out for so they can keep their dogs healthy, especially if they plan on boarding their dogs during holiday travel.

Dog flu symptoms

“Canine influenza is a highly contagious virus spread through direct contact with oral/nasal discharge, sneezing and coughing,” Dr. Hilary Jones, veterinarian and chief veterinary officer at DodoVet, told The Dodo. “It can also be spread through shared water bowls, dishes, toys or by people caring for multiple dogs (like shelter or boarding caretakers).”

Symptoms of canine influenza can look like several other upper respiratory infections, according to Dr. Jones. They include:

  • Cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

“If your dog is displaying any of these signs, it’s best to isolate them from other pets in the household, avoid communal areas like dog parks and grooming [facilities], and contact your veterinarian,” Dr. Jones said.

If signs worsen or your dog is having a hard time breathing, it’s important to take him to the vet right away.

There is one bit of good news for pet parents: Even though canine influenza acts a lot like the human flu, it’s a different strain and doesn’t seem to be able to be passed between people and their dogs, according to Dr. Jones.

Here’s to keeping your dog safe and healthy during cold and flu season (and all year long)!

Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.