Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza FAQ

Q: What is canine influenza?

A: Canine influenza, is a very contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus they are identified by H3N8 and H3N2. There are two clinical syndromes in dogs – mild and severe. Mild — dogs will have a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. Lethargy, reduced appetite, fever, sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose are other possible symptoms. Some dogs may have a dry cough similar to “a kennel cough,” which is caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Thick nasal discharge may appear as well; this is caused by a secondary bacterial infection

Severe —With the severe form of canine influenza develop high and show signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort.

Q: Are all dogs at risk of getting canine influenza?

A: Because this a developing disease, most dogs haven’t been exposed to it before. Therefore, almost all dogs lack immunity to it. Nearly all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, 80% show clinical signs. A dog’s lifestyle will determine the likelihood of being exposed. Those who are regularly around other dogs (boarding, daycare, grooming, dog park), are at a higher risk. Additional precautions need to be taken with puppies, pregnant dogs, seniors and immunocompromised dogs.

Q: Do dogs die from canine influenza?

A: Fatalities have been reported, but the fatality rate is less than 10%.

Q: How widespread is the disease in Ontario?

A: The first two cluster outbreaks were in the Windsor-Essex area. They were relatively small and have been contained; the recent, ongoing central Ontario cluster, is more extensive and more widespread. Cases have also been confirmed in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and Orillia.

Q: How does a dog contract canine influenza.

A: It can be spread by direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected dog (like those that are emitted when a dog is barking, coughing, sneezing) and by contact with contaminated inanimate objects like clothing, shoes, equipment.

Q: Is there a vaccine?

A: Yes. It is considered a “lifestyle” vaccine, which means vaccinating a dog again this is based on the dog’s risk of exposure. Please consult with your veterinarian to determine whether vaccination is needed.

Q: How is a dog with canine influenza treated?

A: The dog should be isolated, and as with many other viral diseases, treatment is mostly supportive. After this, the actual course of treatment depends on the pet’s condition and symptoms.

Q: Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to humans?

A: To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people.

Q: Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to cats, horses or other animal species?

A: To date, there is no evidence of the spread of H3N8 canine influenza from dogs to other animal species. The H3N2 strain has been reported to infect cats, and there is some evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can become infected.

Q: Do I need to be concerned about putting my dog in daycare or boarding it at a kennel?

A: If you suspect your dog is ill, immediately contact your veterinary clinic and any playgroups or kennels they attend. In any situation that brings multiple dogs together, there is an increased risk of spread of illnesses. Ensure the kennel practices proper infection control and are correctly disinfecting the environment regularly.

Q: My dog has a cough…what should I do?

A: Consult your veterinarian. Coughing can be caused an array of medical problems, and exam performed by a veterinarian can evaluate your dog and recommend appropriate testing and treatment.


1. Worms and Germs Blog

2. American Veterinary Medical Association

Written by Kaitlyn S