Pandemic: A Sketch of Canine Influenza

A golden retrieverRecent reports of canine influenza involve two separate viruses: H3N8 and H3N2. Previously limited to Asian countries, H3N2 swept through the Chicago area in 2015. It has since spread to thousands of dogs across the nation (and a group of domestic cats in the Midwest).

Because these viruses are relatively new, there hasn’t been enough time to build up resistant antibodies. Unfortunately, this means all dogs are at risk of contracting this dangerous illness.

An Overview

Canine influenza virus (CIV) originated in horses and spread to a group of racing greyhounds in Florida in 2004. Referred to as H3N8, this strain has infected animals in 40 different states.

The more recent strain (H3N2) developed in Asian birds before setting off an outbreak in the U.S. in 2015.

Symptoms of Canine Influenza

Symptoms can emerge as soon as 2-3 days after exposure. They typically include:

  •      Wet, persistent cough
  •      Fever
  •      Nasal discharge
  •      Sneezing
  •      Lethargy
  •      Inappetance

Puppies, senior dogs, and those with health issues are at a greater risk for pneumonia, making a physical examination even more critical.


Like other viruses, there is no “cure” for canine influenza. Because of this, we are recommending that all dogs receive the H3N2/H3N8 bivalent vaccine and are requiring both the initial vaccination and the booster be administered / current 1 week in advance of boarding at our facility.

Likewise, there are methods for stimulating a robust immune response in your pet, such as increasing fluids, offering proper nutrition, and getting plenty of rest.

If your dog tests positive for H3N2, we recommend isolation for up to 3 weeks or until he or she feels well.

How to Protect Your Dog

Canine influenza is spread via air, contaminated surfaces, and through humans in contact with infected dogs. CIV is a respiratory illness and can spread quickly in areas that house multiple pets.

Fortunately, there are vaccinations to protect your dog from contracting canine influenza. We are recommending that all dogs receive the Vanguard H3N2/H3N8 bivalent vaccine. Our veterinary staff can help your pet get started on the two required doses (administered 2-4 weeks apart). Puppies should be at least 6 weeks old to receive the vaccine.

Every dog is at risk of contracting canine influenza; exposure to other dogs obviously increases this risk. That’s why it’s important to closely monitor time spent at parks, boarding or grooming facilities, and doggie daycares. Even simple contact with passing dogs can place your pet in danger.

Because of this, we are requiring both the initial vaccination and the booster be administered / current at least 1 week in advance of boarding at our facility. Our appointment space for these vaccinations are booking up fast, so please plan ahead.

Moving Forward

We understand that canine influenza can be very frightening for owners, but it’s important to remember mortality rates for CIV are considered low. With proactive measures, you can prevent your beloved dog from contracting either virus. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

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