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Published: Jan 24, 2012

The answer to this frequently asked question is yes. Canine influenza virus was first reported in 2004 and has recently become a fairly common illness among domesticated canines, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus is spread by contact with infected dogs, and outbreaks have been reported in places where large groups of dogs are kept together, such as shelters, pet stores and boarding kennels.

The most common clinical signs of the flu are cough, runny nose and a low grade fever.  While severe complications—such as pneumonia, high fever and death—are possible, they are considered rare.  Most previously health dogs will recover from the flu within 2 to 3 weeks and you should keep your dog away from other dogs during this time.

VCA Animal Hospitals reports the best approach to this disease is prevention and there is an approved canine influenza dog vaccination available.  The vaccination may not be right for every dog but should be considered in dogs that are boarded or kenneled frequently, go to the groomer routinely or are housed with other dogs or have frequent dog contact.

If you suspect your dog may have the flu, it is important first to visit a veterinarian. Pet owners should also isolate their furry friends because the virus is highly contagious. The CDC states that treatment may involve antibiotics and other medications, but the most important thing is to make sure the dog is well-hydrated and provide supportive care.