VCA Everett Animal Hospital
By Sage Willis, CVT
Published: September 26, 2012

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Canine influenza (dog flu) is a highly contagious virus spread among dogs. The first US case was reported in 2003, and studies suggest that virtually every dog exposed to the virus will become infected unless they are vaccinated or have already had the illness and recovered. Approximately 80-90% of dogs exposed to canine influenza will develop symptoms of infection.

Just as in human flu infections, illness severity varies from dog to dog. It is thought that greyhounds are more susceptible and may have a higher rate of death. Mild signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, and cough. Even generally healthy dogs may become severely ill with a high fever, increased respiratory rate and pneumonia.

Treatment for severe cases includes hospitalization, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and nutritional support. Dogs may pick up the virus from contact with infected surfaces such as toys and food bowls, and other infected dogs. Dogs that may come in contact with other dogs on walks, at pet stores, grooming facilities and dogs that go to daycare and boarding facilities are at the highest risk. As we head into the holiday season, when furry family members are often boarded it is extremely important that you consider vaccinating your dog with the canine influenza vaccine.

The first time your dog is vaccinated, the vaccine will be given once and repeated 2-3 weeks later. Thereafter, the vaccine should be given yearly. Vaccination will protect dogs by significantly decreasing symptoms of infection and risk of flu associated complications. At this time, there have been no reports of human infection with the canine influenza strain (H3N8).


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately at 617-394-0471.

If it is after hours, the closest 24 hour emergency hospital is the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, located in Woburn, at 781-932-5802.

You may also contact our sister hospital, the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital in South Weymouth at 781-337-6622, with whom our veterinarians collaborate closely with.