Canine influenza, also known as canine flu, is a highly contagious respiratory disease affecting dogs. There are currently two types of the flu strain, H3N8 and H3N2. H3N8 strains were first diagnosed in 2004, which developed after the equine influenza virus mutated and was able to spread from dog to dog. The newer strain, H3N2, arrived in Chicago in 2015 from Asia. Both strains of canine influenza are being diagnosed across the United States.
Symptoms commonly seen with the canine flu are a combination of coughing, sneezing, runny nose, poor appetite, lethargy and fever. Laboratory testing is needed to identify which pathogens are present to determine which virus or bacteria is the cause.
Outbreaks of canine influenza results from dog to dog contact and enclosed spaces such as boarding facilities, kennels, day cares, dog parks and grooming shops are more susceptible because of the constant high population of dogs. Any dog suspected of having canine flu should be isolated from other dogs, as it is a very contagious disease.
Although rare, H3N2 strain of canine influenza virus can affect cats as well. The symptoms in cats are similar to those seen in dogs; runny noses, congestion, discomfort, lip smacking and excessive salivation.
Canine flu vaccines are available, but do not prevent the infection from the virus, but is designed to decrease the severity of the illness and reduce the spread of the virus. Speak to your veterinarian to determine if the canine influenza vaccine is recommended for your pet.