H3N2 Canine Flu – What You Need to Know

CAUTION - Dog FluH3N2 Canine Influenza, the contagious respiratory virus, has continued to make headlines ever since reports surfaced in April of more than 1,000 dogs sickened in the Chicago area. Now positive tests for H3N2 have been reported in the past few days in Ohio, Michigan, and Georgia in addition to previous reports from Alabama, California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Iowa and Indiana.

You can check out the Emerging Disease Monitoring of Canine Influenza Virus from March 3 – May 6 by Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center. (https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/docs/CIV_Monitoring_2015_05_08.pdf)

The virus is different from the previous strain of dog flu, H3N8, that’s been around the United States for at least ten years. The new strain, known as H3N2, most likely made its way over to this country via an infected dog from China or Korea.

According to Keith Poulsen, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the virus does cause symptoms similar to those of the human flu, like coughing, nasal discharge, fever and loss of appetite, however it doesn’t appear to infect humans. it is likely spread through nose-to-nose contact between dogs. And a small percentage of dogs can be carriers of the virus without showing symptoms.

Currently there is only a vaccine designed for the previous flu strain, but it is usually only given to dogs at high risk for getting infected. Researchers do not know if the vaccine protects against the current strain.

However, experts say that while dog owners should be concerned, there is no reason to panic. Only pets with weakened immune symptoms, the very young, or geriatric dogs living in areas of concentrated outbreaks face any statistically higher risk.


  • incubation period of 1-3 days
  • contagious up to 14 days
  • symptoms include fever, cough, nasal discharge, lethargy, decreased appetite
  • most symptoms last 5-7 seven days
  • coughs can persist for several weeks
  • most at risk are the very young and geriatric dogs


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