Tis the Season for Canine Flu

If you’re a pet parent, you’ve undoubtedly wondered if dogs can get the flu. Indeed they can. The canine influenza virus (CIV) is not the flu that you are thinking of. Your dog won’t vomit, get the chills or experience muscle aches like you do. CIV is a contagious respiratory disease that is quite easily passed from dog to dog.


The symptoms of CIV are very similar to kennel cough, but the disease may seemingly take on a life of its own, causing some dogs to exhibit more severe symptoms. When your dog has CIV, it may cough, sneeze, produce thick, yellowish-green nasal discharge, lose its appetite, develop a fever, and experience lethargy.


Pet owners typically wonder if their dogs are susceptible to CIV. Your Alexandria VA veterinarians at Hollin Hall Animal Hospital can take a complete and accurate history to tell you if your dog is at risk. In general, dogs that interact frequently with large numbers of dogs are more at risk of developing the virus. This includes dogs that attend day care, are boarded, attend obedience classes, or play at dog parks.


There is no medication that can cure CIV. Your Virginian veterinarian may advise you to provide supportive care for your dog, and she may prescribe medications to treat secondary infections. Your vet may recommend supplements, a warm area for your pet to rest, intravenous or subcutaneous fluids for hydration, medication for bacterial infections, and monitoring for the development of pneumonia.


There are a variety of reports of CIV causing fatalities in dogs. It is important to understand that when diagnosed and treated at the onset of symptoms, the rate of fatality is incredibly low. Dogs that do pass away do not do so from CIV itself, but from secondary infections like pneumonia.

If you are concerned that your dog is at high risk for CIV, or you believe your dog has contracted the virus, contact your veterinarian. The earlier the virus is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for your canine companion.

About the Author

Dr. Holly Gill is an experienced veterinarian in Alexandria, Virginia. Connect with Dr. Gill on Google+.

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