Miss Kira’s Corner

Canine Influenza and Dog Flu Shots – Get the Facts!

By the veterinarians at Porte Veterinary Hospital in Campbell, CA

Canine Influenza Virus.

It’s real.

It’s highly contagious.

And it’s preventable.

Your veterinarians and staff here at Porte have been educating pet owners, one at a time, as they come in to the animal hospital for veterinary services.

However, since there is so much confusion and misinformation out there on the Internet, we decided it was time to set the record straight and share this information on our website with hopes it will help clear-up any confusion and possibly save the lives of many precious pets.

Does my dog need a flu shot?

It’s one of the most common questions we hear.

And the answer depends on a variety of factors your veterinarian will discuss with you about your pet’s health and unique lifestyle. You won’t find a ‘one size fits all’ mentality here at Porte Veterinary Hospital.

Your Porte Pet Care Team has created this easy to use resource with videos and links to reputable sources to provide pet parents with a general understanding of the dog flu by answering some of the most frequently asked questions.

Please note these resources do not replace the need for a physical evaluation and testing. Only licensed veterinarians can legally diagnose any condition including canine influenza.

What is the dog flu?

Dog flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus.

All it takes is one interaction with an infected dog or contaminated surface for your pet to catch the Dog Flu.

There are two strains of dog flu; H3N8 and H3N2.

H3N8 strain has been around for several years, but H3N2 was first identified here in the U.S. early in 2015. Thus, our dogs here in the Silicon Valley area have not been exposed to it and they have no natural immunity.

The H3N8 strain is of equine origin and is thought to first have infected dogs in Florida at a greyhound racing track.

The H3N2 virus was isolated, identified and typed in 2015 shortly after the outbreak in Chicago which affected over 1,000 dogs. According to further testing conducted by the University of Wisconsin, this H3N2 strain of the virus is of avian origin and is nearly identical to H3N2 found in dogs in Korea.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms include, but are not limited to coughing, retching, lethargy, loss of appetite, runny nose, discharge from eyes, or fever. Some dogs only cough. Some dogs never show any signs or symptoms, but are contagious.

Is dog flu contagious to other dogs, pets, or people?

Canine Influenza Virus is highly contagious to other dogs and has been reported in a small number of cats.

According to the CDC, there has not been a single reported case of human infection with the Canine Influenza Virus. However, the CDC and its partners continue to closely monitor the viruses.

How is it spread?

Direct Contact: nose to nose, muzzle to muzzle, friendly licks (dog kisses), and through the air when an infected dog sneezes, coughs, or barks.

One enthusiastic sneeze can send aerosolized particles up to 20 feet through the air!

Indirect Contact: The virus can live for up to 48-hours on contaminated surfaces such as toys, feeding bowls, water bowls, etc.

Contaminated People: The virus can live on your shoes and clothing for 24-hours, and on your hands for up to 12-hours when people come into contact with the germs of an infected dog (and they may not even realize it!!).

Is it seasonal? Is there a ‘flu season’ for dog flu like there is for the human flu?

No. Dog flu is not seasonal. Dogs are susceptible and can be contagious year round.

It can last for weeks and a dog can be contagious for several days.

Some contagious dogs never exhibit symptoms – while other dogs cough, and retch, and cough for 4 weeks (despite treatment with medication) which can cause distress for the pet and upset the entire family.

And in some dogs, this virus paves the way for more serious secondary bacterial infections and illnesses (including pneumonia) which require more medical care. Unfortunately, some dogs have died from complications of Dog Flu. This can be largely avoided with the correct vaccination protocol.

How do veterinarians diagnose the dog flu?

Dog Flu cannot easily be distinguished from many other respiratory issues. Your veterinarian knows which laboratory tests to run in order to confirm the diagnosis and prepare a proper treatment plan.

Dog flu is not the same thing as Parainfluenza or Bordetella (kennel cough) which your dog may already have been vaccinated against.

If my dog gets the flu, what are the treatment options?

There is no treatment specifically for Dog Flu. Thus, the focus is on supportive care ranging from home care to hospitalization in isolation with I.V. fluid administration, supplemental feeding, and other supportive care. Secondary bacterial infections are common and can be treated with antibiotics.

Again, this can be largely avoided with proper vaccination.

Is there a dog flu vaccine available at veterinary hospitals here in Silicon Valley?

Yes! We carry the vaccines here at Porte Veterinary Hospital. This is a two part vaccine. Your pet would come in for the 1st vaccine and would need a booster vaccine 2-4 weeks from the initial vaccine, then once a year.

Does my dog need a flu shot?

Three reasons why vaccination is appropriate:


Dogs can be infected with the virus days before any symptoms appear. And some dogs can be contagious even while showing no symptoms.


The virus can live for up to 48 hours on surface such as toys, food bowls, water bowls, bedding, etc.


People can unknowingly spread the virus around because the virus can live on shoes and clothing for 24-hours, and on our hands for 12-hours.

Thus, the only thing that can truly stop this disease from spreading is to stop dogs from catching it in the first place; through vaccination.

We take this seriously here at Porte Veterinary Hospital.

If your dog is coughing or if you know or suspect your dog was exposed to the virus, please first call us.

Depending on the circumstances, we may ask you to keep your dog isolated from other dogs. It may be safest for our veterinarians to examine your dog in your vehicle. Your veterinarian and staff may wear special gowns and gloves to examine your pet to prevent the spread of the disease

Here are some links to external websites outside of Porte Veterinary Hospital’s website:

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply