Canine influenza vaccine

What Is Canine Influenza Vaccine?

Written by: Vanessa Celemen

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Time to read 6 min

A Canine Influenza Vaccine is a preventive measure used to protect dogs from the canine influenza virus, commonly known as dog flu. It is an essential tool recommended by veterinarians to reduce the risk of infection and severe illness in dogs.

Canine influenza vaccination plays a crucial role in preventing the spread of the virus within the dog population, ultimately safeguarding not just individual pets but entire communities of dogs. By building immunity against the specific strains of the virus contained in the vaccine, dogs are less likely to contract the illness or experience severe symptoms if they do. This herd immunity effect is particularly valuable in settings where dogs frequently interact, such as parks, daycare facilities, or grooming salons.

What Is Canine Influenza?

a sick dog

Canine Influenza, also known as dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by influenza viruses. Dog owners should be aware of the symptoms, as early detection helps in timely treatment and prevention of spreading the infection.


The two primary strains of canine influenza are H3N8 and H3N2, with H3N2 being more recently identified. Dogs exposed to other infected dogs in places like kennels, dog parks, or shelters are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. The common symptoms of dog flu include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, and lethargy. In severe cases, canine influenza can lead to pneumonia, which is life-threatening, especially in puppies, senior dogs, or those with weakened immune systems.

What Are The Types Of Canine Influenza?

H3N8 and H3N2

There are two main types of Canine Influenza: H3N8 and H3N2. These viruses can be transmitted between dogs and have the potential to infect people through zoonotic transmission.


The H3N8 strain of canine influenza was first identified in greyhounds in Florida in 2004 and later spread to other states. It originated from an equine influenza virus that jumped species.


On the other hand, the H3N2 strain was first detected in South Korea in 2007 before making its way to the United States. It likely originated from avian influenza and underwent genetic reassortment to infect dogs.

How Is Canine Influenza Spread?

Dogs at park

Canine influenza virus (CIV) causes acute respiratory disease in dogs and spreads readily from infected dogs to other susceptible dogs through direct contact,” (Jirjis, F., et al, (2010) 


Canine Influenza spreads primarily through respiratory secretions, making places like dog parks and boarding facilities high-risk environments for transmission. Understanding the mechanisms of transmission is crucial for preventing outbreaks.


Veterinarians stress the significance of regular vaccinations to protect dogs from this contagious respiratory disease. Once exposed, the virus quickly spreads among dogs in close contact, causing symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and fever. The close quarters of communal dog spaces amplify the risk of transmission, as infected dogs shed viral particles in the environment. 

Pet owners should be cautious when taking their dogs to crowded dog parks or daycare facilities, as the virus lingers on surfaces for extended periods. Implementing hygiene practices such as regular handwashing, disinfecting shared items, and isolating sick dogs helps mitigate the spread of Canine Influenza.


Vaccination, antiviral medications, and isolation precautions are important adjuncts to prevent and control influenza outbreaks in health care settings,” (Bridges, C., et al, 2003).

What Are The Symptoms Of Canine Influenza?

a dog with runny nose

The common symptoms Of Canine Influenza are listed below.

  • Coughing

  • Sneezing

  • Runny Nose

  • Fever (103°F to 105°F)

  • Eye Discharge

  • Lethargy

  • Reduced Appetite

  • Difficulty Breathing

  • Secondary Infections

     

How Does Canine Influenza Affect Dogs?

Canine Influenza has varying effects on dogs, ranging from mild respiratory symptoms to severe illness . Infected dogs require proper veterinary care to manage the virus effectively and prevent complications.


For many dogs, symptoms of canine influenza resemble a common cold, such as coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. In more severe cases, dogs experience high fever, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. This highly contagious respiratory infection can spread quickly among dogs in close proximity, like kennels or dog parks, making it crucial for pet owners to be vigilant. Seeking prompt veterinary assistance is essential for diagnosing the infection accurately and providing appropriate treatment to alleviate symptoms and prevent further spread of the virus.

How Long Does Canine Influenza Last?

The duration of Canine Influenza can vary, but typically, the illness lasts for 2 to 3 weeks. The recovery period may extend based on the severity of symptoms and the dog's overall health.


The recovery time is influenced by factors like the dog's age, pre-existing health conditions, and access to prompt veterinary care.


To ensure a smoother recuperation process, providing supportive care, maintaining hydration, and proper nutrition, and following the veterinarian's guidance are crucial steps.

How Is Canine Influenza Diagnosed?

Dog Undergoing Swab Test

Canine Influenza is diagnosed through laboratory tests that detect the presence of the virus in respiratory samples.


These tests typically involve collecting nasal or throat swabs from the affected dog, which are then analyzed to identify the influenza virus. PCR testing is commonly used to detect the genetic material of the virus, providing a highly accurate diagnosis. It is crucial to follow proper diagnostic protocols to differentiate canine influenza from other respiratory illnesses, as accurate diagnosis helps in implementing appropriate treatment strategies promptly.

What Is The Treatment For Canine Influenza?

The treatment for Canine Influenza focuses on supportive care to alleviate symptoms, prevent secondary infections, and ensure a quicker recovery. Veterinary assistance is crucial for managing the illness effectively.


In some cases, antiviral medications are prescribed to target the influenza virus directly and aid in recovery.


Symptomatic relief measures such as fluid therapy, rest, and proper nutrition with supplements such as Primal-Vitality Beef Organ Complex play a key role in supporting the dog's immune system and helping them fight off the infection.

Are There Any Medications For Canine Influenza?

  • Oseltamivir: an antiviral drug that inhibits the virus's ability to spread and replicate in the body

  • Antibiotics: prevent or treat secondary bacterial infections, such as pneumonia

  • Cough Suppressants: alleviate persistent coughing if it is severe and interferes with the dog's rest

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): reduce fever and inflammation


It's crucial for pet owners to carefully follow the dosage and administration instructions provided by the veterinarian to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment and to minimize potential side effects . Some medications can cause gastrointestinal upset or allergic reactions in dogs, so close monitoring during treatment is vital. To address stomach upset, read “Remedies to Soothe Your Dog's Upset Stomach”.

What Are The Home Remedies For Canine Influenza?

While veterinary care is essential for Canine Influenza treatment, some home remedies can help ease symptoms.

  • warm and quiet environment

  • ensuring proper hydration

  • offering nutritious food

  • rest and low-stress activities

  • humidifiers

How Can Canine Influenza Be Prevented?

a dog receiving a vaccine

Preventing Canine Influenza involves vaccination, practicing good hygiene, avoiding exposure to infected dogs, and keeping high-risk dogs away from communal areas.


One of the most effective ways to prevent Canine Influenza is through vaccination . Regular vaccinations significantly reduce the risk of infection and severity of symptoms in case of exposure. Maintaining strict hygiene practices such as regularly washing your dog's belongings, and bowls, and grooming them helps prevent the spread of the virus. It is essential to avoid exposure to infected dogs and keep pets away from communal areas where the virus easily spreads.

What Are The Recommended Vaccinations For Canine Influenza?

The recommended vaccinations for Canine Influenza include an initial series of shots followed by annual boosters. Ensuring dogs are vaccinated against the virus is vital for their overall health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Canine Influenza Vaccine?

Canine Influenza Vaccine is a vaccination for dogs that helps protect against the Influenza virus.

How is Canine Influenza Vaccine administered?

Canine Influenza Vaccine is typically given as an injection by a veterinarian.

Why is it important to vaccinate against Canine Influenza?

Vaccinating against Canine Influenza can help prevent your dog from getting sick and spreading the virus to other dogs.

Does my dog need a Canine Influenza Vaccine?

It is recommended that all dogs receive a Canine Influenza Vaccine, especially if they spend time in places with high dog populations, such as dog parks or kennels.

Is Canine Influenza Vaccine safe for my dog?

Yes, Canine Influenza Vaccine is considered safe for most dogs. Your veterinarian can help determine if it is the right choice for your dog.

Are there any side effects from Canine Influenza Vaccine?

Some dogs may experience mild side effects such as soreness at the injection site or a slight fever. These usually resolve within a day or two.

Dr. Athena Gaffud, DVM

Author: Dr. Athena Gaffud

Dr. Athena is a seasoned, board-certified veterinarian with comprehensive expertise in general practice, veterinary medicine, laboratory operations, and veterinary writing. She is passionate about animals and holistic health. 

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