"I've heard about canine influenza. Should I vaccinate my dog?"

Brian Stewart, DVM

Here's help to answer veterinary clients' questions about canine influenza.Getty ImagesThe facts

Getty ImagesThe facts

There are two known strains of canine influenza-H3N8 and H3N2. The H3N2 strain is the most recently discovered strain, and it was the main culprit of the recent influenza outbreak in the Chicago area that sickened thousands of dogs. Recent news reports indicate H3N8 cases have been reported in 41 states, and H3N2 cases have been reported in 25 states. We are still finding H3N2 influenza infections as it continues to spread in the Midwest, southwest and east coast.


Clinical signs include:

• coughing

• sneezing

• nasal secretions

• lethargy

• high fever  

• pneumonia that can lead to death.

It is spread via nasal and oral secretions, such as sneezing, barking and licking. Dogs most susceptible are ones that go to daycare, boarding facilities or dog parks.

What to say

We tell clients that it's advisable to have us vaccinate your dog if he comes into contact with other dogs, especially in a daycare or boarding facility. If it's the first time the dog is getting the vaccine, it needs to be boostered in three weeks, then annually thereafter.

Brian Stewart, DVM, is the medical director at Woodstock Veterinary Clinic in Woodstock, Illinois.