There’s been a lot of buzz about human flu lately, but how many of you pup-parents know about the doggy version of the wintery condition? It’s believed that up to eighty percent of exposed pooches will go on to contract the virus, which was first discovered back in 2007 – and it’s on the rise.

Let me share with you all the things you REALLY need to know about canine influenza, also known as dog flu.


  1. What is Dog Flu?
  2. How Do Dogs Get Flu?
  3. What Are the Symptoms of Canine Influenza?
  4. How Long Does Dog Flu Last?
  5. Dog Flu Treatments
  6. Can You Prevent Dog Flu?
  7. Dog Flu Vaccine FAQ
  8. Emergency Fund
  9. FAQ

What is Dog Flu?

According to vet studies, dog flu is a type of influenza virus that originally started out in birds before spreading to canines – the CIV H3N2 virus. Humans have an H3N2 flu virus too, but it is not the same. (As if things weren’t complicated enough!)

There is also another, an older strain of canine influenza – H3N8, believed to have originated in horses, and a third, which has not yet been reported in the US – H1N1.

How Do Dogs Get Flu?

Dog flu spreads in the same way as human flu – sneezing, coughing, heavy breathing, and other aerosolized respiratory secretions.

It can also be transferred to items and surfaces, such as countertops, floors, bedding, etc. The virus can survive for up to 48 hours on a kitchen countertop. On bedding, clothing, carpets, curtains, and other soft furnishings, the virus can survive for up to 24 hours.

As a pet owner, you can transfer the virus from an infected pup to a not-infected one. The virus can survive for up to 12 hours on your hands, so it is good practice to wash your hands after interacting with dogs, especially ones that aren’t part of your family.

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Influenza?

The symptoms of canine influenza are remarkably similar to human flu:

It is important to remember that not all pooches will present with the same symptoms. Some dogs will have all of them, but others will have none. These symptoms are also quite vague and generic and symptomatic of a range of other medical conditions, such as kennel cough.

How Long Does Dog Flu Last?

Some dogs will contract canine influenza and then get better, without you even realizing they’ve had it.

Just as with human flu, the symptoms of dog flu can last for a few weeks – between 2 and 4. Your pet may have symptoms for almost all of that time, part of it, or even none of it.

It is recommended to monitor your dog while they are unwell. If you are not able to be at home with them, why not consider purchasing an interactive pet camera? You can monitor your pet in real-time, as well as playback footage with Petcube Care to check they haven’t gotten up to anything naughty throughout the day. It could even help you catch early symptoms of doggy medical conditions!

Dog Flu Treatments

The treatment of dog flu relies on alleviating the symptoms. Your vet may prescribe or advise products to treat your dog’s cough if they have one. Your pup will need rest too, and plenty of fluids.

In some cases, flu in dogs doesn’t go away by itself. Instead, it gets worse and turns into a secondary bacterial infection, which can lead to conditions such as potentially fatal pneumonia. This is when canine influenza is classed as severe and requires hospitalization. Secondary infections are sometimes treated with antibiotics.

Can You Prevent Dog Flu?

Yes, there are steps you can take to prevent dog flu. First and foremost, the dog flu vaccine can protect your pup from both the H3N2 and H3N8 viruses.

If dog flu seems to be rife in your area, it is not recommended to socialize your furry friends with furry friends from other households. Dog parks, for example, are a breeding ground for the virus. You should also make sure you wash your hands after interacting with other dogs.

If one dog in your household has symptoms of the flu, you should quarantine other cats and dogs. You should also make sure that you clean and thoroughly sterilize bedding, food bowls, and other items your infected pet has interacted with.

Dog Flu Vaccine FAQ

Your vet will likely advise you to have your dog vaccinated against canine influenza. You will not need two separate shots to protect your pup against both H3N8 and H3N2 types; they are covered in one initial vaccination plus a follow-up booster two weeks later.

Does My Dog Need a Flu Shot?

You should have a chat with your vet about getting your dog vaccinated against canine flu. It is not mandatory, and it doesn’t 100% protect your pet – but it can offer a great deal of protection.

The vaccination is not recommended for all dogs; it is lifestyle dependent.

What Are the Side Effects of Canine Influenza Vaccine?

The side effects of the canine influenza vaccine are similar to the side effects of any doggy vaccine:

  • Skin irritation and swelling at the vaccine area;
  • A slightly elevated temperature;
  • Lethargy;
  • Reduced interest in food, treats, and toys;
  • Flu-like symptoms – coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, etc.

Dogs can have allergic reactions or sensitivities to vaccines. The following symptoms can occur in those cases:

  • Wheezing and trouble breathing;
  • Coughing that is prolonged and hacking;
  • Eye, neck, and/or face swelling;
  • Bumpy, itchy rash;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Total food and water avoidance.

If you notice any of those symptoms, you must contact your vet or another emergency facility immediately.

How Long Do Side Effects of Dog Flu Shot Last?

The side effects of the vaccine should last for no more than 48 hours. Intranasal vaccines can have side effects that last for a little longer: 2 to 5 days.

Once again, if your dog’s side effects last for longer than 48 hours for needle vaccinations and 5 days for intranasal vaccines, seek advice from a vet.

Emergency Fund

Would you like to get $3,000 of emergency vet care for your pets when they need it the most? How about around-the-clock, 24/7 access to professional veterinarians to chat with whenever you have a question or problem? If you answered yes, you should get to know Petcube’s Emergency Fund a little better.

For less than $1 per day, you’ll get unlimited access to an expert team of licensed vets. You’ll also get no-restrictions coverage for up to 6 cats or dogs, with up to $3,000 per year to cover an unexpected emergency vet bill. Oh, and the payments are direct – and fast!


Can dogs get the flu from humans?

No, dogs can not get the flu from humans. Canine flu and human flu are similar, but not the same.

Can humans get canine influenza?

To date, there have been no reported cases of humans contracting canine influenza. Viruses constantly evolve and change, however. Because of this, there is a chance (albeit low) that it could evolve to one day affect humans.

Can my dog give flu to my cat?

Yes, there have been reports of cats contracting the canine influenza virus H1N1. It is not yet understood how easily transmissible it is, so it is recommended to quarantine cats and dogs in the same way that you would quarantine multiple dogs.

Was this article helpful?

Help us make our articles even better

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback