Highly contagious canine influenza, or dog flu, can affect dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status. Environments such as dog shows, dog parks, pet day care centers, and grooming facilities are particularly risky.

It is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV) and can occur year-round. Almost all dogs exposed to the virus become infected, and the majority (80% of infected dogs) develop flu-like illness. It can be difficult to diagnose and potentially difficult to treat. In some cases, CIV symptoms can be severe. Prevention remains the best course of action. CIV is not contagious to people.


The canine influenza virus travels from infected dogs to uninfected dogs through:

  • Direct contact.
  • Coughing, barking and sneezing.
  • Contaminated objects: clothing, kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes.
  • People handling or moving between infected and uninfected dogs.


Range from mild to severe: persistent coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, lethargy, reduced appetite and fever.


Secondary bacterial infection can develop and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia.


  • Talk to your vet about your dog’s risk of exposure and if the canine influenza vaccine is right for your dog.
  • Avoid exposing your dog to obviously sick dogs.
  •  If there is a CIV outbreak in your area, avoid taking your dog to areas where dogs gather.
  •  If your dog show signs of illness, isolate it from other dogs and seek veterinary care.
  •  Wash your hands after handling any dog and especially after handling a sick dog.
  •  Do not share equipment or toys between sick and apparently healthy dogs.


Provide supportive care to keep the dog as comfortable as possible.Medications may be necessary for severe illness or secondary bacterial infections.


Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks.


Canine influenza vaccine (Vanguard CIV H3N2) may be given to healthy dogs 8 weeks of age and older. Dogs should be given a 2 dose series 2-4 weeks apart and then an annual revaccination with a single dose is recommended. The vaccine does not prevent infection but it will reduce the severity and duration of the infection.

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