Can Dogs Catch the Flu? 5 Things Every Pet Owner Should Know

February 08, 2019

The flu is one of the most contagious and easily spread diseases affecting as many as 20% of Americans every year. From over the counter medication to vaccines, every flu season we take countless measures to protect ourselves and our families from the virus. But, should we also take steps to protect the four-legged members of our families?

Here are five things every dog owner should know about the flu in dogs:

1. Can Dogs Get the Flu from Humans?

Even though it is rare, studies suggest that dogs can get the flu from humans. Dogs can catch the flu from humans through interactions like hugging, kissing, and sneezing. In most cases, however, dogs will catch the flu via contact with other infected dogs. Methods of transmission include barking, coughing, sneezing, or sharing water or food. The dog flu is caused by either the H3N8 or H3N2 strains of the virus, both known for being highly contagious and for affecting the respiratory system of dogs.

2. What are Dog Flu Symptoms?

Both canine and human influenza is contagious and contracted through respiratory contact. Additionally, the main symptoms of canine flu are also similar to those associated with human flu.

  • Nasal discharge (runny nose)
  • Coughing
  • Red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Labored breathing, mild respiratory difficulties
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomit and diarrhea

Some cases of dog flu may cause more severe symptoms like a high fever and pneumonia. If your dog shows signs of these symptoms or other serious respiratory problems, schedule a visit with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

3. Treatments for Dog Flu

Most mild cases of dog flu may not need any form of special treatment, other than keeping your dog warm, hydrated, and well fed. Moderate and some mild cases of dog influenza can be treated with cough suppressants or antibiotics. Severe cases may require recurring veterinarian care and even hospitalization. In any case, rest and isolation are essential for a dog to recover fully.

4. Natural Dog Flu Treatment at Home

Natural supplements like herbs, vitamins, and minerals can be used to relieve some symptoms of canine flu. Herbs are known to strengthen and support the immune system include cat’s claw and echinacea. Herbal extracts like CBD oil for dogs, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, can also be an effective dog flu treatment at home, as it can help reduce sinus inflammation and minimize fatigue.

5. What About the Canine Influenza Vaccine?

If you are considering the canine influenza vaccine, consult with your veterinarian first. When it comes to contracting a contagious disease like the flu, some dogs are more at risk than others; so a vaccine may be necessary to maximize preventative efforts.