What You Need to Know About Canine Influenza


With flu season in full swing for humans, the misery of getting sick is fresh in people’s minds. Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones threatened by a virus that can ruin our week. Canine influenza, or CIV, is sweeping across Ohio bringing sneezing, coughing, and general malaise toward our beloved dogs.

CIV is a viral disease that is spread to dogs through contact with infected dogs or tainted toys and water bowls. It lasts for several days and presents the same symptoms as the human flu.

Canine influenza can be frustrating for any dog and its owner, but presents extra health risks for frail or immunocompromised dogs.

The Ins and Outs of CIV

CIV is a virus that causes an upper respiratory infection in dogs. It comes in two strains: CIV H3N8 or CIV H3N2. It presents symptoms including:

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Discharge from the eyes

Dogs get it from exposure to other infected dogs, very similarly to humans. Coughing and sneezing releases the virus into the air, therefore dogs are more likely to pick it up from kennels, shelters, or other areas where they congregate.

While the strains are different, they present similar symptoms. Some states have one strain or another while many, including Ohio, have both strains at the same time. This situation makes vaccination a higher priority as both strains could infect your dog.

The biggest impact this disease has on your dog is the fact that it weakens their immune system. This compromised system is then prone to other infections. Dogs that have severe CIV are likely suffering from more than one disease at the same time.

The Fight Against CIV

While there is no “cure” besides just riding out the virus, there are vaccines for both strains. Many facilities, including Riverside Animal Center, are making it mandatory to receive the vaccinations in order to board dogs at their facilities. These vaccinations both protect your dog and the canine population as a whole. And, they’re even more important if your dog is older or suffering from other diseases that give it a weaker immune system already.

However, if your dog does become ill, there are steps you can take to minimize the frustration and misery that your dog may face. First and foremost is voluntary quarantine, where you keep your dog away from any other dogs for 5 to 7 days, including any other dogs you may have in the home. This includes separate food and water bowls, as well as separate physical spaces. While this presents a challenge to everyone involved, it will minimize the problem in a multi-dog household.

The reality of CIV is that it can’t be fixed with medicine. While an antibiotic might be prescribed to fight other diseases that try to attack your dog’s weakened immune system, CIV itself cannot be stopped if your dog is infected. All you can do is provide support and care while the disease passes, usually in about a week.

CIV in the Future

Like the human flu, CIV is an ongoing problem that must be vaccinated against. There is currently no cure besides prevention. Vaccinations must be re-upped every year if you or your vet are concerned about outbreaks.

If you’re worried about your dog and want to know more about CIV, contact us today at Riverside Animal Center.