Canine influenza: Can my dog get the flu?

Canine influenza: Can my dog get the flu?

Have you heard of canine influenza? Although not reported much on in South Africa, it does exist and is quite harmful to your furry friend.

Sick dog cute stock image
damedeeso / iStock

Your fur baby can get the flu although it is different to the one we humans contract.

How does canine influenza spread?

Humans spread the flu through sneezing, coughing, and overall close contact. The same happens for our furry friends. Canine influenza is spread among dogs when they bark, sneeze or cough in close proximity to each other, reports ABC News. If your canine companion spends time at dog parks or kennels, they face a higher risk of catching the flu.

What are some signs to look out for?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following as signs of the illness but notes that not all dogs show these:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Eye discharge and
  • Reduced appetite

“The severity of illness associated with canine flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death,” CDC says.

While most furry friends recover in a few weeks with some rest and TLC, some can get quite sick. 

The recovery period takes about two to three weeks, but some dogs can develop secondary illnesses such as bacterial infections or pneumonia. If you are concerned about your fur baby showing signs of canine influenza, it's important to visit your vet.

How to stop the spread of canine influenza

To stop the spread of this doggy villain, hygiene is key! Just like you wash your hands after being around someone sick, do the same after caring for your pup. This prevents you from accidentally passing the virus to other furry friends.

Remember, your dog can't catch your human flu, but you can give them theirs! Keep your distance and let your pup recover.

Where did canine influenza come from?

Canine influenza has two strains, H3N2 and H3N8. Originating in horses, the H3N8 strain spread over to racing greyhounds. H3N2, on the other hand, originated in birds, according to the CDC.

Given that canine influenza is a relatively new virus, our fur babies don't have great natural immunity.


In South Africa, pet owners can get a standard 5-in-1 vaccination for their dogs from the SPCA. This covers the following: 

  • Canine distemper
  • Adenovirus type 2
  • Infectious hepatitis 
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus.

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Image courtesy of iStock


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