Canine Flu Vaccine Recommended for Social Dogs

Canine Flu Vaccine Recommended for Social Dogs

Several years ago there were simultaneous outbreaks of canine flu in Chicago, Florida, Minnesota, Georgia, and other small occurrences nationwide. We ordered the Flu vaccine, which at that time protected against just one flu strain, and recommended it for dogs traveling with owners and those going to dog shows. However, those outbreaks soon quieted down, and it seemed that the need to vaccinate the majority of our patients had passed.

The past two years mostly saw small outbreaks at greyhound kennels, large breeding facilities, and at some dog shows. Recently there have been larger outbreaks again, most notably in Columbus, Ohio, and surrounding areas. Confirmed cases of Canine Flu have now been reported in 48 states, including Pennsylvania. The presence of infected dogs in our neck of the woods is concerning.

Canine influenza was first reported in 2004 when equine influenza H3N8 mutated and was able to jump species to dogs, initially greyhounds in Florida, then some kennels, and shelters. A second canine influenza virus strain H3N2 was isolated in South Korea in 2007, but wasn’t identified in the U.S. until 2015. Now thousands of dogs have tested positive in 46 States. Because these are newly mutated viruses, dogs do not have immunity so that infections after exposure are common. Spread of canine influenza happens from direct contact with respiratory secretions and indirect contact with clothing, hands, and pet toys, or other objects.

Some exposed dogs have mild respiratory symptoms, but those who become sick with flu express symptoms that can be similar to other causes of canine upper respiratory infection (like kennel cough) and include: cough, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. The tip-off that canine flu may be the culprit are the additional symptoms of a runny nose, eye discharge, prolonged fever and inappetence, pneumonia, and generally, a much sicker dog. Diagnostic tests can confirm the disease. More aggressive treatment is required than generally prescribed for kennel cough. Longer term antibiotics, fluid therapy, and supportive care with hand feeding are often needed. Most dogs recover with treatment, but about 10% may not.

Combination vaccines for both strains of Canine Influenza are now available. Immunization with two vaccinations three weeks apart are now recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association for social dogs who visit dog parks, go to doggie daycare or kennels, are frequently groomed, or travel to dog shows.

Our Veterinarians, Technicians, and Receptionists will be glad to help you assess your dog’s risk for Canine Influenza and arrange for vaccinations.


Many kennels and doggie day cares will be requiring Canine Flu vaccines by this summer. The two strains of Canine Flu in the US are novel viruses that ALL DOGS WHO CONTACT IT WILL CONTRACT.

Social dogs who frequently go to day care, dog parks, or kennels should be immunized twice the first year, then annually. Many of our local doggie daycares and kennels have imposed a time deadline by which your dog must be immunized. To assist our clients’ compliance, if your pet has had a wellness exam within the past six months and is not obviously ill, a technician visit can be scheduled for the initial immunization and boost 2-4 weeks later.

Call our receptionists to set up a flu vaccine appointment.

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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