Dear Davi,

My pup seems to be under the weather. She has less energy, won’t eat her favorite treats and has a cough. Can dogs catch the flu?



If you haven’t heard, a canine flu outbreak is spreading like wildfire, leaving plenty of pups feeling down in the dumps—at least a dozen dogs in Florida have already been infected.

There’s no need to panic. Knowledge is power.

That said, I’ve dug up some important facts you need to know about canine influenza.

What is dog flu?
Dog flu, or canine influenza, is a respiratory disease that’s easily spread among dogs. Two viruses, H3N8 and H3N2, are responsible for recent outbreaks.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of dog flu hit the respiratory system first, causing hacking coughs, a runny nose, watery eyes and a sore throat. It’s usually accompanied by a high fever and loss of appetite. People talk about being sick, but a dog isn’t able to say how lousy he feels. Watch for changes in behavior. If your normally hyper dog seems lethargic or if your always-hungry pup starts skipping meals, it’s time to take a closer look.

How is it spread?
Dog flu is spread through close contact in highly populated areas, like dog parks and the vet’s waiting room. Sneezes, coughs and shared toys are the main culprits. Not even friendly barks and nose rubs are safe!

How serious is it?
Most dogs who get the virus don’t die. But dog flu can cause more serious illnesses than the average respiratory infection. In some cases, it can turn into pneumonia, and becomes much more dangerous.

What breeds are most at risk?
All ages and sizes of dogs are equally at risk. But dogs with flat-snouts like pugs, French bulldogs and Pekingese may have a tougher time dealing with the symptoms.

What dog flu treatments are available?
It’s a viral infection, so dog flu can’t be cured with medication. Make sure your dog gets plenty of love, water, rest and any medicines your vet prescribes while the condition runs its course. Chances are, he or she will be back to normal in about two weeks, and back to playing fetch and eating strange things off the sidewalk.

There is a two-shot canine flu vaccine, which doesn’t always completely deflect the virus, but may reduce its length and severity.

Can humans get dog flu?
Some good news: Humans aren’t susceptible to dog flu, aside from the worry of watching your best friend suffer through it.

How can I keep my pup safe?
Keep furry friends away from busy dog hangouts, like parks, pet shops and grooming spots. Wash your paws and change your clothes after petting other dogs to reduce potential exposure—spreading the love can also spread the virus. When in doubt, seek veterinary care!

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends vaccinating dogs who are in frequent contact with other dogs to help prevent the spread of the virus. While vaccination is advised in high-risk infection areas, many vets recommend owners make a risk assessment before deciding whether or not to vaccinate.

Stay healthy!

Davi the dachshund is a certified M.D.—Momma’s Dog.