Canine Influenza - Information for Pet Owners

What is Canine Influenza?

Canine influenza (or dog flu) is an influenza A virus that infects dogs. There are two different dog flu viruses: H3N8 and H3N2 virus. Most dogs have no immunity to either strain of virus and it is highly contagious. It can also infect cats. It is not known to infect humans. The first documented case of H3N2 in Canada was on January 2, 2018 in Windsor-Essex County.

How is Canine Influenza spread?

Canine influenza is spread when dogs have direct contact with infected dogs. It can also spread when dogs are exposed to contaminated objects (e.g. kennels, food and water bowls, collars, leashes) or with people who have been in contact with infected dogs. Dogs who participate in group activities (e.g. dogs shows, dog parks, grooming parlors, etc.) or are housed in group facilities (e.g. animal shelters, rescue groups, kennels) are at highest risk for exposure.

What are the Signs of Canine Influenza?

Canine influenza infects the upper and lower respiratory tract. Dogs with canine influenza may show no signs of illness, or may become severely ill resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death. Signs can last 2-4 weeks and may include:

  • Frequent cough
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever (>103.5F)
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite

What should I do if my dog is showing signs of canine influenza?

There are many other illnesses that cause similar signs and your dog may not have canine influenza. However, before bringing your dog to the veterinarian clinic, it’s important to consult with them first and they will give you special instructions on when and how to see your dog. Your dog may have a very contagious infection that can be easily spread to other dogs in the clinic. Tell your veterinarian the following information:

  • When your dog’s signs of illness started
  • If your dog has been around other dogs recently (e.g. dog show, dog parks, grooming parlors, etc.)
  • If your dog was around coughing dogs recently

What if my dog is diagnosed with canine influenza?

Most dogs do not become severely ill and recover at home. Only a small percentage will develop pneumonia and need special treatment at the clinic.  To prevent the spread of canine influenza, it is very important to:

  • Keep your dog (and any other dogs or cats in the home) away from other dogs or cats for at least 4 weeks. While your dog may seem healthy after 2 weeks, they can still spread the illness.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after coming into contact with your dog
  • Regularly clean areas where your dog spends time (e.g. eating, sleeping, and play areas) with regular household cleaners.

For more information:

Please call Environmental Health Department hotline at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475

Pet Owners:

Information for Veterinary Professionals:

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