Should You Be Worried About Canine Influenza?

What is Canine Influenza?

Canine Influenza (CIV) is a viral respiratory infection found primarily in dogs. There have been two identified strains of the virus in the US: H3N8 and H3N2. These viruses are considered to be endemic in the United States.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, the first evidence of H3N8 canine influenza in companion dogs was documented in spring 2005. It is believed to have jumped species from horses and was first identified in an outbreak of respiratory illness in racing dogs in Florida in 2004. H3N8 does not affect cats. Since the virus was identified in 2005, Oregon has had a few documented H3N8 cases.


UPDATE: As of 1/23/18 there is a current outbreak of CIV H3N2 in the San Francisco Bay area. Click here to learn more.

In 2015, a canine influenza outbreak in the Midwest was determined to have been caused by the H3N2 subtype, which had been circulating in Asian dogs since 2007. H3N2 has been found in many US states since April 2015. Cases of H3N2 in dogs were confirmed in King County, WA in late 2015 and early 2016. To date, there have been no documented or confirmed cases of H3N2 flu in Oregon.

Can cats or other animals get CIV?

Cats in a shelter in Indiana were confirmed to have been infected with the virus. However, the risk to most cats living outside of shelters is considered low, with the highest risk factor being infection in a household dog, so prevention of illness in dogs is key to the health of other animals in the household. There is some evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can become infected.

How is it transmitted?

Canine influenza is an airborne disease, much like kennel cough (Bordetella). The virus can travel in droplets from a cough or sneeze and can be transmitted by contact with contaminated objects (for instance, a chew toy or water bowl). Dogs can mount an immune response as well prior to showing any symptoms and can spread the disease without showing symptoms. If your dog stays at home and rarely contacts other dogs, his risk of contracting the virus is likely low. If your dog is boarded, goes to daycare, or the dog park, he may be at a higher risk. If your dog is coughing, he should not go to public places where he could contact other dogs until you get the symptoms checked out by our veterinarians.

What are the symptoms?

There is a mild form of the disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.

Mild form

The mild form of canine influenza mostly mimics kennel cough but can last longer.  They can have a moist cough, have a fever, and be lethargic.  They often sneeze, have eye discharge, and may have a thick nasal discharge (which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection)

Severe form

The severe form causes symptoms secondary to pneumonia.  They will have a high fever, increased respiratory rate or panting, difficulty breathing, and severe cough.  Old and young dogs are more likely to be highly affected.

What should I do if my dog shows symptoms?

Call your veterinarian if your dog develops a cough, especially if it has already received the Bordetella vaccine. If your dog is coughing, do not take him out to locations where he may infect other dogs. Early intervention is key to limiting community outbreaks. Be sure to tell us if your dog has been boarded, sent to the groomer or involved in any social activities (dog park, daycare, etc.) within the last month.

How do I prevent my dog from getting sick?

Avoiding contact with dogs that appear sick is very important. UPDATE: There is now a vaccine that protects against both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of CIV, and Frontier has this vaccine. As with most infectious respiratory disease viruses, the vaccine does not protect completely against or eliminate the virus but reduces how ill your dog can be with it as well as lessening your dog’s ability to transmit the virus to other dogs. The Bordetella vaccine does not protect dogs against canine influenza.

UPDATE: At this time, we recommend vaccinating your dog. Click here to learn about this recommendation and the recent outbreak of CIV.

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.