Canine Influenza

Canine influenza (also known as the dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs.The virus that causes dog flu, Influenza Type A (H3N8), was first identified in Florida in 2004. It primarily infects the respiratory system and is extremely contagious. A vaccine was granted full license by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2009 (Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8). Some dogs can be exposed to the virus and fight off infection without showing clinical signs.

Symptoms of the Dog Flu

The dog flu can range on how your dog is affected. General signs of the dog flu include coughing, sneezing, anorexia, fever, and red or runny eyes and noses.  There are two different syndromes:

  • Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. Occasionally, it will be more of a dry cough. In most cases, the symptoms will last 10 to 30 days and usually will go away on its own.
  • Severe – Generally, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop signs very quickly. Pneumonia, specifically hemorrhagic pneumonia, can develop. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, so the dog may cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs). Patients may also be infected with bacterial pneumonia, which can further complicate the situation.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The mild form is usually treated with cough suppressants. Antibiotics may be used if there is a secondary bacterial infection. Rest and isolation from other dogs is also important.

The severe form needs to be treated aggressively with a broad spectrum of antibiotics, fluids and other general support treatments. Hospitalization and isolation are necessary until the dog is stable.

If you suspect your dog has the dog flu, call Falls Road Veterinary Hospital immediately. We will schedule an appointment to determine the best course of action.


Prevention is always best. Vaccination can protect your dog from this illness.  This is particularly important if your dog visits kennels, groomers, dog parks, dog shows, or dog sporting events.  Falls Road Veterinary Hospital offers this vaccination to our patients.  Call us today and schedule an appointment. Or you can fill out this form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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