What You Need To Know About Canine Influenza (H3N2 & H3N8)

Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It's important to know the facts about this condition and its prevention.

There is no evidence that H3N8 or a newly identified influenza strain (H3N2) can be transmitted to people. But there is a possibility that H3N2 can be spread to cats and other pets. 

The signs of the virus closely mimic the common respiratory disease, Bordetella (kennel cough), however, canine influenza can be more serious.

Canine influenza shares similarities with the typical human influenza virus. It is airborne and can also be spread through contact with inanimate objects such as your dog’s toys, bedding, water/food bowls, etc. Take note that the disease is more common in shelters, boarding facilities, dog parks and other areas where dogs frequent and gather.

Signs & Treatment 

While canine influenza is a somewhat new source of disease in dogs, nearly all dogs regardless of age and breed are susceptible to infection. About 80 percent of infected dogs will have a mild form of disease.1

If your dog is coughing or showing signs of illness like lethargy, lack of appetite, nasal drainage or fever, keep your dog away from other pets and call your veterinarian to discuss the next steps. Unfortunately there is no quick test to diagnose canine influenza virus in dogs and treatment is primarily symptomatic and supportive.  Severe cases may require hospitalization.

Canine Influenza Prevention Tips

A vaccine for canine influenza (H3N8 strain) is available for healthy dogs.  We recommend discussing vaccination with your veterinarian, especially for those dogs in and around the affected area that are at-risk of contracting the disease. In addition:

  • In times of outbreak, minimize your dog’s contact with other dogs.
  • Keep your healthy dog(s) at home and avoid visiting any locations where other dogs may have been, including dog parks, pet stores and doggy daycare.
  • Practice good hygiene for your pet and family. Family members should wash exposed areas of skin after petting and playing with pets.
  • Clean and disinfect kennel items (i.e., bedding, toys, dishes) frequently.

We’re Here to Help

If you have further questions about canine influenza including details on tests your doctor may perform to diagnose the disease and provide the appropriate treatment, please contact your local veterinarian or refer to our canine influenza handout for additional support.

1. Key facts about canine influenza (dog flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/flu/canine/. Accessed April 15, 2015.