Canine Influenza: Symptoms, How It's Spread, Treatment Options and Tips to Help Prevent It

How Is the Flu Treated?

Most dogs with canine influenza are treated on an outpatient basis, however, they should be isolated from other animals until they are no longer contagious, which is usually at least 21 days. Treatment may include antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections, fluids to correct dehydration, and other medications. A small percentage of dogs with severe disease require hospitalization and oxygen supplementation. Influenza is fatal in a very small percentage of cases.

Cats with influenza are treated supportively with antibiotics and potentially other medications to address the upper respiratory signs.

How Can I Help Prevent My Pet from Becoming Infected?

It helps to avoid dog parks, daycares and other facilities where the virus could easily be spread. Limiting or preventing exposure to areas where an outbreak has been reported is a good preventative measure. Ask your veterinarian if there have been any outbreaks in your area.

Vaccines are available for dogs; however, a feline vaccine has yet to be created. In general, these are not considered “core” (i.e. required or strongly recommended for all pets) vaccinations but are recommended for pets that are at higher risk of exposure based on their lifestyles and outbreaks in the area.


Although there are vaccines available for the H3N8 strain and others for the H3N2 strain, vaccines for one strain may not cross protect against the other strain. A vaccine was recently introduced that is designed to help protect against both viral strains. By vaccinating your dog, you may not completely protect him from getting the virus, but the vaccine usually helps reduce illness and the transmission of the virus.

If you are concerned that your dog or cat may be showing signs of the canine influenza virus, please see your veterinarian. When you make the appointment, let them know that you are concerned about influenza so they can take the necessary precautions so other pets aren’t exposed when your pet arrives at the hospital. Even if your pet isn’t showing signs, it’s a good idea to ask if your pet may be at risk.


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