Brown puppy looking at camera while in a vet's arm.

Answers to your questions about dog flu

This flu season, ask your veterinarian if your dog needs a flu shot

Yes, dogs can get the flu just like people. But unlike human flu, dog flu can strike any time of year. Your dog may be at greater risk for getting the flu if he or she goes to a:

  • Boarding facility
  • Doggie daycare
  • Group training
  • Dog park
  • Groomer

Is dog flu the same as human flu?

No. Dog flu is caused by a different virus than human flu, but it’s flu nonetheless. Dog flu is highly contagious and has rapidly spread across the United States over the past few years. And because dog flu is relatively new, most dogs have no natural immunity to the virus that causes it. All newly exposed dogs will become infected.1 Dog flu cannot be passed to humans or vice versa.

How is dog flu spread?

Dog flu is easily spread by sneezing, coughing, or coming in contact with the virus left behind by infected dogs on clothing, food bowls, bedding, etc.

How do I know if my dog has the flu?

The first signs of dog flu are familiar to anyone who has come down with the human variety: cough, runny nose, fever, and loss of energy or appetite. But coughing caused by dog flu can continue for weeks and develop into a more serious condition, such as pneumonia.2 While most dogs recover, severe cases of flu can be fatal. Puppies can be particularly susceptible to pneumonia.

How can I protect my dog against the flu?

Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can protect dogs. Appropriate vaccination for dog flu is important because one infected dog is all it takes to spark an outbreak. A dog can be infected and spread the virus to other dogs before signs of illness appear.3 That’s why more doggie daycare facilities and kennels are now requiring vaccination for flu as well as Bordetella and parainfluenza (also known as canine cough or kennel cough).

Be sure to plan ahead. Your dog will need a booster vaccine 2 to 4 weeks after getting the initial flu vaccination.

Ask your veterinarian if your dog should have a flu vaccination.


  1. Crawford C, Spindel M. Canine influenza. In: Miller L, Hurley K, eds. Infectious Disease Management in Animal Shelters. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2009: 173-180.
  2. Deshpande M, Abdelmagid O, Tubbs A, Jayappa H, Wasmoen T. Experimental reproduction of canine influenza virus H3N8 infection in young puppies. Vet Ther. 2009;10(1-2):29-39.
  3. Jirlis FF, Deshpande MS, Tubbs Al, et al. Transmission of canine influenza virus (H3N8) among susceptible dogs. Vet Microbiol. 2010;144(3-4):303-309.

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