Laurelwood Veterinary Clinic

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Everything you need to know about the flu

Who is affected?

Dogs, especially dogs that are around other dogs (dog parks, groomers, etc). Dog flu is relatively new and most of the dog population has not been exposed so every dog is vulnerable. 10% of infected dogs are expected to die so this is a much more crucial time to get your dog vaccinated for the flu than hopefully in a few years when exposure will be more prevalent. 

Cats, too, may be affected by the flu and there is no vaccine for cats. 

People cannot get this flu from dogs but because it is a flu virus, it is possible in the future that may change. 

What is it?

The Canine Influenza virus (CIV), otherwise known as the flu, was recognized in 2004 when grey hound racing facilities started seeing the respiratory disease in their dogs. This virus originated in horses and has been circulating for the past 40 years. By 2005, it had spread to other race tracks and over 20,000 dogs were infected. It had also started to spread to the general dog population. This virus is referred to as the H3N8 canine influenza virus.
In 2015 there was a severe outbreak of the flu in Chicago where approximately 1,000 dogs were affected. That virus was of avian (bird) origin and is closely related to a canine flu in South Korea, it is known as the H3N2 virus. By 2017, it had spread to 31 states.

Flash forward to 2019, where we are seeing both strains in California, although the H3N2 is much more common. Luckily, we have vaccines that protect against both strains.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

If you are concerned that your dog has the flu, please make an appointment. We can run tests to confirm that your dog has the flu.

-high fever



-loss of appetite

-runny nose (clear at first then turning to yellow)

Any dog that is exhibiting flu like symptoms will be seen in the owner's car to prevent the spread to other animals in the clinic.

How can my dog get it?

The flu is easily transmitted dog to dog. It is easily transmitted because unlike humans, the majority of dogs have not had the flu before and therefore have no natural immunity to it. The virus can be transmitted through air particles after a dog coughs or sneezes or through shared toys, water bowls and/or food. Humans can also lead to the spread of the flu. If you touch a dog, even if it does not seem sick, then touch your dog or your dog touches your clothing it could potentially contract the flu.It is best to wash your hands and clothes anytime you touch another dog before touching your own dog. Not all dogs will show symptoms of the flu. Dogs can carry the virus for weeks without seeming sick and pass the virus along to everything it comes in contact with.

How can I prevent my dog from getting the flu?

The best way to prevent your dog from getting the flu is to vaccinate it. Laurelwood Veterinary Clinic is recommending that all dogs get the flu vaccine.We currently have the flu vaccines in stock but backorders and shortages out of our control do happen. The initial flu vaccine is two parts and after that is given annually. Your dog will come in to get the first one then wait three weeks and come back in to get a second one that boosters the first shot. It is important to note that your dog will not fully be protected after the first shot.

Other ways you can help prevent your dog from getting the flu as well as stopping the flu from spreading:

-Wash your hands whenever you come home before petting your dog every time.

 -Shower, and put your clothes in the wash before petting your dog if you had come into contact with another dog or places where dogs are while you were out.

-Avoid taking your dog to dog parks, training classes, groomers, dog shows, etc. when an active outbreak is happening in your area as it is now in the bay area. 

-Do not allow your dog to share toys, treats, water, or food with other dogs.

Where is it?

It started in the east bay (Oakland area) but has now spread to Sacramento and San Jose, it is also been seen in shelters in Oakland which means that it will spread. Shelters tend to move dogs from one shelter to the next, send dogs off to foster homes, and when the dogs get adopted out, once these new people and dogs come into contact with potentially sick dogs it starts to spread like wildfire.


How is the flu treated?

As of now, there are no treatments specifically for Canine Influenza. This makes preventative care very important. The care that your dog will receive will be supportive care.

Most dogs will need to stay quiet at home for a few weeks before making a full recovery, but some dogs will need to be hospitalized due to the severity of their symptoms. Dogs with the flu are at risk for developing secondary infections such as pneumonia.

The flu has a high morbidity (the number of exposed animals that develop symptoms) at 80% and a low mortality (death rate) at 10%.

Can my kids or I get the flu from our dog?

As of now, there are no known cases of people getting the flu from their dogs. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC state that the flu virus is always changing and it is possible that it could change and start infecting people and spreading from person to person.