About Dog Flu Symptoms

Dog flu symptoms

History of

Dog flu was first diagnosed in racing greyhounds in 2004 and traced back to a horse influenza called H3N8. The greyhound dogs and horses shared the same racetrack. As far as scientists know, this is the first time that dogs were diagnosed with the influenza virus. Since then, the dog flu has appeared in 22 states and in both racing and pet dogs. In a few states, the percentages of dogs who tested positive for having had the flu at some point were quite high. These states included:

*Colorado, where 56 per cent tested positive

*Wyoming, where 43 per cent tested positive

*Connecticut, where 27 per cent tested positive

*New York and Florida, where each state tested 21 per cent positive

The Facts

Canine influenza is a separate strain than the influenza that humans get. Dog flu strikes canines as an upper respiratory infection and is contagious to other dogs. The disease seems to be passed most readily in close living quarters, such as kennels, but researchers suspect it can also be passed through bodily secretions left behind and even carried home by owners who work in kennels and other areas with multiple dogs. The incubation period of the illness is 2 to 5 days and the flu seems to last for 14 to 30 days. The symptom most commonly associated with dog flu is a cough that lasts for 10 or more days. Many owners confuse this cause with kennel cough, which can be a much more serious condition. Other symptoms include:

*Nasal dripping or green discharge

*Mild fever


*Joint pain

*Higher than normal white blood cell count

Around 80 per cent of dogs with the flu will show the above symptoms, but the other 20 per cent may have a more severe reaction, including fevers as high as 41.1 degrees Carenheit. More severe illnesses and untreated flu can result in secondary issues, such as pneumonia. Most dogs survive canine influenza, but the illness is fatal to around 1 per cent of dogs infected. However, if an infected dog is not treated for the illness, the fatality rate can rise to as much as 50 per cent. Early detection and treatment is vital.


Although an owner may worry about catching the flu from his dog, this is very unlikely. There has been no evidence that dog flu can be passed from canine to human. In fact, most diseases carried by dogs cannot be passed to a different species.

Dog flu is often mistaken for kennel cough. However, if an animal has been vaccinated for kennel cough and develops a long-lasting, raspy cough, then the animal should be tested for dog flu.

Expert Insight

Most veterinarians recommend having the dog's blood tested to diagnose this disease. Treatment usually includes antibiotics and/or treatment for dehydration. The biggest risk factor with dog flu is bacterial infections related to the initial illness.

Risk Factors

Currently, there is not a vaccination available to prevent dog flu. If your pet is going to be around other canines, try to use preventive treatments. Dogs seem to have no natural immunity to this illness, so keep your dog far away from any dog with a cough or that seems ill. Make sure your pet does not share a food or water bowl with other dogs and bleach any items that come into contact with other canines.

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About the Author

Lori Soard has been a writer since 1995, covering a variety of topics for local newspapers and magazines such as "Woman's World." For five years, she served as a site editor for a large online information portal. Soard is also the author of several published books, both fiction and nonfiction.