Canine Influenza Virus Outbreak

You may have heard in the news recently about a canine Influenza virus (CIV) outbreak. Eleven states now have confirmed cases and authorities fear this number will rise because of the highly contagious nature of the infection, which is attributable to influenza A virus.

What signs may be seen in canine flu patients?

  • Coughing

  • High fever

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nasal discharge

Signs may be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus than those caused by H3N8. additionally, some infected dogs may not show any symptoms, but they can still spread disease.

How is canine influenza transmitted?

CIV is spread through aerosolized respiratory secretions (eg, coughing, barking, sneezing) as well as fomites (ie, contaminated objects [eg, kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, leashes]). CIV can also be transmitted by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

A CIV outbreak is possible when the virus is introduced to a dog population with limited immunity and frequent close contact. A dog show is an ideal venue for viruses like influenza to spread because just 1 infected dog can cause an outbreak that spreads rapidly. As the dogs return home from the show they begin to break with CIV, which then spreads to other dogs in their area.

Should dogs be vaccinated?

Veterinary healthcare teams should review the decision to vaccinate based on risk assessment, allowing for the likelihood of patient exposure and the implications of infection. Consider the following when deciding risk and need for vaccination:

  • Has CIV been confirmed in the area?

  • Will the patient be traveling to an area where CIV is present?

  • Does or will the patient have regular contact with many different dogs?

  • Does or will the patient have regular interaction with dogs from areas where canine flu may be present?

  • Does the patient's age or health status (eg, young, old, immunocompromised) increase risk for complications following infection?

What about a cat living in the same household?

H3N2 has caused infection and respiratory illness in cats but less frequently. Signs of infection are similar to those seen in dogs.


  • Do not allow the dog to have close contact with other dogs or dogs unfamiliar to the family, especially dogs that are sneezing, coughing, or have traveled recently.

  • Do not allow the dog to share food and water bowls, toys, or blankets with other dogs because these objects could be fomites for pathogens.

  • Wash or launder items before returning home to help decrease contamination.Owners may act as a fomite—hygiene is of the utmost importance, and owners must pay careful attention to hand hygiene (eg, using hand sanitizer frequently), especially when they touch other dogs. This will help decrease the number of pathogens transmitted to their own dog.

If your pet is showing any of the signs listed above, do not hesitate in calling Town & Country West Veterinary Clinic at at 770-528-6363.

Information extracted from Kara M. Burns’s article from the Veterinary Team Brief.

MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), VTS-H (Internal Medicine, Dentistry) Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians

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