Dogs Can Get the Flu, Too

Cali’s not sick; she’s just bored.

Has your dog been coughing, sneezing, and acting lethargic?

If so, get her quickly to a vet; she could have the flu!

Canine flu does not infect humans, but it can spread easily among dogs who come into contact with a sick dog — or an infected toy, bowl, bedding or clothing item, or other object. Dogs can also catch the flu from sick dogs’ sneezing and coughing.

Flu viruses (among many species) change and adapt quickly and also “jump” to new species. One form of canine flu that exists in the U.S. was discovered in 2004 in greyhounds in Florida; it was found to have originated from a horse flu. A second strain of canine flu originated from a bird flu and was first detected in the U.S. in 2015.

Though one or both strains have been seen in most parts of the U.S., the number of cases is still small. If your dog is rarely around other dogs and seems healthy, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Canine flu is not seasonal, and many dogs show no symptoms. Severely ill dogs can get pneumonia, but that is rare. Canine flu has not spread everywhere in the U.S. yet, but some areas have had outbreaks this winter, including California and Nevada.

Dogs who are frequently around other dogs, at boarding or day care facilities or dog parks, for example might be good candidates for a doggy flu shot (yes there is a vaccine!). Check with your vet. The vaccination requires two shots, several weeks apart.

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