Can You Catch the Latest Dog Flu From Your Pet?

If you’ve been to the dog park recently, you’ve probably heard that the dog flu is going around. Wondering what it looks like, if you can catch it, and how to prevent it? All your answers are right here.


What’s the Backstory?
Per a recent article on, “Canine influenza virus (CIV) is the strain of the flu that infects dogs, and it’s a pretty recent phenomenon. Unlike human cases of the flu, which have been described for thousands of years, dog flu first appeared less than 20 years ago.

“In 2004, a greyhound at a Texas racetrack tested positive for H3N8, a strain of influenza that until then had only been seen in horses. The track was also used for dog racing, so it seems that the virus infected a horse, mutated, and then had a chance to jump across species. Another outbreak of dog flu, H3N2, appeared in Chicago in 2015 after the virus jumped from birds to dogs. That strain is currently spreading among dogs in New York City.”


What Are the Signs?
According to, the following are signs you dog has caught the flu:

  • Persistent cough
  • Nasal discharge – not just your dog’s normal wet nose
  • Fever
  • Eye discharge – look for goopy, mucus-like discharge or a noticeable increase if your dog normally has eye discharge
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced activity, lethargy

“Dog flu is not usually fatal. Death rate is reported to be less than 10% among flu-infected dogs. The flu needs to run its course (15-30 days for mild cases). Treatment for canine flu is mostly supportive: fluids, rest and cough medicine prescribed by your vet.”


Can You Catch It?
According to National Geographic, passing the flu from an animal to a human has “never happened before, and despite the results of the new study, it’s very unlikely to happen anytime soon. The particles on the surface of the virus are like keys that match the distinctive ‘locks’ on an animal’s cells. Canine influenza virus has the key to infecting dogs, and since the virus only causes an infection once it’s inside a cell, it would take a significant mutation to the key for it to infect a human.”



How Can You Prevent It?
According to PetMD, “a vaccine for the canine flu is currently available, though it should only be considered after speaking with your veterinarian. In addition, there are other respiratory conditions that can be vaccinated against, specifically Bordetella bronchiseptica, the bacteria responsible for what is commonly called ‘kennel cough.’

“Any dog that is suspected to have canine influenza should be isolated from other dogs. Those dogs with the mild form of the infection usually recover on their own.”


Photo: Joey Banks on Unsplash


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Maureen Dempsey

Maureen Dempsey is a freelance writer living in New York with an ancient, 14-year-old chihuahua and a feisty, young dachshund.

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