What you need to know about the dog flu | The Trupanion Blog
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What you need to know about Canine Influenza, aka the Dog Flu

Canine influenza (CIV) first hit the United States in 2005. Since then, the virus has been recorded in every US state except Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota and Nebraska. Two dogs in Ontario, Canada, were recently diagnosed (Jan 2018).

Dogs have no natural immunity to the canine influenza virus. Therefore, prevention is key to containing spread of the virus.


Did you know? Trupanion has seen more than a 500% increase in canine influenza claims in California in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

  • The average claimed cost of treatment for canine influenza is $800.
  • Severe cases may result in pneumonia, which increases the claimed cost of treatment to an average of $2,100.

What is dog flu?

Dog flu or canine influenza is caused by the canine influenza virus. The symptoms include persistent cough, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy and reduced appetite. It is highly contagious. Some infected dogs may not show signs of illness even though they are contagious.

There is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to humans.

Transmission and Prevention

Canine influenza is spread to other dogs by coughing, sneezing, barking and coming into contact with contaminated objects like water/food bowls, kennel, toys, and leashes. People who pet an infected dog may unknowingly infect other dogs.

It is most contagious during the 2- to 4-day virus incubation period. Symptoms may not be present during this time. Therefore, it is important to isolate your dog if you think they may have been exposed to a dog who has CIV, or as soon as you notice your dog starting to show symptoms.

Preventative vaccines are available for the H3N8 and H3N2 strains. Contact your veterinarian to find out whether a vaccine would be recommended for your dog.

How is canine influenza treated?

Treatment will depend on the dog’s condition; dehydration, the presence of a secondary bacterial infection, pneumonia, or other medical conditions will determine your veterinarian’s course of action. Therefore, it is important to call your vet if you think your dog has been exposed, or as soon as you see signs of canine influenza.

What to do if you think your dog has been exposed to dog flu:

  • DO call your veterinarian immediately to discuss your situation and any signs you may be seeing.
  • DO NOT take your dog into the veterinary hospital without making appropriate arrangements. Canine influenza is highly contagious. You do not want to risk exposing vulnerable pets.
  • DO follow good hygiene and sanitation, including hand-washing to avoid spreading the virus. The use of disinfectants is effective in killing the virus in the environment. Be sure to rinse well after using a disinfectant.
  • DO follow your veterinarian’s recommendations, to ensure your dog is not contagious before exposing them to other dogs.


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