What You Need to Know About Dog Flu

Dog flu Q&A with Dr. Kris Otteman, DABVP, CAWA, Vice President of Shelter Medicine and Operations

We’ve all seen the news about how the human flu is hitting our community especially hard this year. Chances are you know someone who has been or is currently sick.

Now, headlines are warning about dog flu. This news has sparked a lot of questions from our volunteers, adopters and the public. To help, we gathered information and advice from Dr. Kris Otteman, DABVP, CAWA, Vice President of Shelter Medicine and Operations.

Can animals get the flu?

Yes, many species of animals are susceptible to the influenza virus. The viruses are species specific, meaning that the dog flu is not the same as human flu.

What are the symptoms of dog flu?

The symptoms of dog flu, also called canine influenza virus or CIV, are actually fairly similar to human symptoms; coughing, sneezing, wheezing, loss of appetite and fever. These symptoms can be very similar to kennel cough. Although the symptoms are similar, monitoring the severity of symptoms, completing an influenza test and response to treatment are all ways veterinarians differentiate common bronchitis (kennel cough) from pneumonia or influenza. 

What are the treatments for dog flu?

Similar to influenza treatment for people, our canine patients need rest, hydration, possible treatment for cough and monitoring for secondary infections that may require antibiotics. To decrease the chance of spreading the virus, it’s best not to hospitalize dogs with influenza if they can be treated safely at home.

Should I get my pet vaccinated?

Every pet’s needs and risks are different so you should speak with your family veterinarian for specific recommendations. 

Can I give my dog (or cat) the flu or can I catch it from my pet?

No, the virus is species specific. If you and your pet are sick at the same time, it’s merely a coincidence.

Has the dog flu spread to Oregon?

The dog flu has affected certain parts of the country more heavily than others. Cornell University’s website is the most up to date source of information about canine influenza and where it has been diagnosed. It’s important to know that veterinarians in private practice and shelters are on the lookout for this disease and have been asked to report any cases.  

Are the dogs at OHS vaccinated for dog flu?

OHS is not currently vaccinating dogs for influenza. The vaccine reduces the severity of the disease but does not prevent infection and giving one vaccine prior to adoption is unlikely to be protective at the shelter or beyond. The best prevention is recognizing a potential infection and isolating that dog until a diagnosis is confirmed.

If I have interacted with any of the dogs at OHS, do I need to be concerned about giving anything to my other pets at home?

Usual precautions of washing hands or changing clothes between contact of animals at the shelter and home apply to this virus in the same way as other infectious disease of both dogs and cats.  In general the risk of carrying a disease home to your pets is low if basic cleanliness guidelines are followed.