Flu season is almost here and the last thing we want to do is pass on a virus to our favorite furry friend. But, can your dog catch the flu? The answer is YES, but not from you.

What to Know About Canine Influenza

While the symptoms of canine influenza are quite similar to those of the human flu virus, your dog cannot contract a human strain. Canine flu is caused by one of two different influenza viruses – H3N2 or H3N8, both of which originated from other animals.

Canine influenza is highly contagious and spreads through droplets made by barking, sneezing, or coughing. The virus can also spread by direct contact with contaminated surfaces including water bowls, food bowls, toys, and kennels.

Symptoms of canine flu include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing

Prevention of Canine Influenza

There are multiple ways to help protect your dog from contracting canine flu. These include:

  • Minimize the amount of time your dog is in close, confined quarters as much as possible. Having fresh air and room to move will reduce the possible exposure to these viruses.
  • If you must board your dog, or enroll them in puppy daycare, ask the facility if it has a regular cleaning schedule.
  • Make sure your pup gets enough rest. Pets get exhausted just like us – and sleep is important to keeping their immune system strong and healthy.

There is a vaccine available for both strains of the canine flu, H3N2 and H3N8. Depending on the frequency of your dog’s visit to a dog park, daycare, or boarding facility, you may want to consider talking to your Westfield Veterinary Group veterinarian about the canine influenza vaccine and booster shots.

Treating Canine Influenza

There is no cure for the canine flu, and most dogs can fight the virus all on their own.

The first step to combating canine influenza is to quarantine your pet for up to three weeks to prevent the spread of the virus. Remember, canine flu is highly contagious – and preventing the spread is a critical step. As your dog fights off the virus, they may require more than normal rest, fluids, and, possibly an anti-inflammatory.

If your dog does not improve within 10 days, contact the Westfield Veterinary Group team immediately. We may need to prescribe an antibiotic and nutritional plan to help treat any secondary infections that may have arisen due to a weakened immune system.

With flu season officially here, make sure your pup AND you stay happy, healthy, and safe!