Doggone Flu: It Isn’t Limited to the Chicago Area


dog flu

If you followed the canine news in the spring of 2015, you undoubtedly heard about a strain of flu going around kennels in Chicago and other states. Some dogs have died but most recover.

And after a particularly bad human flu season, this was not welcome news. Not at all.

Here’s some more info about the canine flu that’s spreading across the country and what you can do to help your furry friend avoid it.

Dog Flu

This isn’t the human variety but some strains have been known to originate in horses and even birds from Asia.

While it isn’t typically a fatal disease, it’s also nothing to ignore.

And we know the most pressing question in your minds: Can we get it from our dogs? According to the CDC in Atlanta, nope.

What to Watch Out For

Canine flu has similar symptoms to the human strains: Runny nose, a cough, fever and lethargy. Yep, if you find that your mutt suddenly wants to do nothing but lay on the couch watching Animal Planet, she may have the flu.

This flu is respiratory and could last as long as a few weeks. While there is no vaccine ready for the current strain of the flu, there are broad spectrum canine flu vaccines available.

The flu is spread from dog to dog and can run rampant in kennels and shelters which is why some grooming and boarding facilities are asking to see flu vaccine proof in addition to a bordetella vaccine for kennel cough.

What It Protects

As of this writing, the vaccine protects against the A H3N8 virus which is the one that originated from horses.

But since this is a viral disease there isn’t a specific treatment.  Vet’s will need to assess each individual dog’s condition and treat appropriately – they may subscribe fluids, rest, and antibiotics for example.

Who is Susceptible?

Unlike humans who build up natural immunity to flu strains, nearly every dog who is exposed will contract it and get sick. The issue for dogs is that it can lead to more serious issues than feeling tired and having a cough.

This disease can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses which, in the case of a dog whose immune system is compromised, can be lethal.

What Happened in Chicago?

According to the Washington Post, the outbreak of flu in the Midwest may have been the result of unprotected dogs being kenneled for spring break vacations – estimated that over 1,000 dogs were diagnosed with the flu.

What to Do if She Has the Flu

If you suspect your dog has the flu, the first step is to get thee to a vet. Keeping her quarantined from other dogs is also a good idea so make sure to give your vet’s office a heads up that you think your dog has the flu.

There’s not much you can do once your dog has it except make him comfy. The vet visit is really to monitor him for more serious issues like pneumonia.



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WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.