Dog Flu Now In 40 States And Continues To Spread - What You Need to Know NOW

Based on recently compiled data, Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) infection has been documented in at least 40 states in the US. Keep in mind that these statistics are based on samples sent in voluntarily, and in no way reflect the scope of dogs affected in each state.

The first confirmed outbreak of CIV infection occurred in Florida at a Greyhound racing facility. Since that time, the incidence of CIV infection has increased, and outbreaks have been reported in dog-racing facilities, shelters, kennels, veterinary offices, and pet stores. 

Canine influenza is a relatively new disease, and most dogs are susceptible.

What began as an isolated episode of respiratory disease in 1 state has now become a nationwide health concern for all dogs. 

This is not surprising, given that:
  • CIV is a new virus, and dogs have no natural immunity to it 
  • Dogs are mobile and move from or through affected states-especially rescue dogs and dogs that travel with their owners 
  • Many dogs are boarded or go to daycare or grooming facilities where close contact to other dogs puts them at high risk 
Wherever dogs congregate, CIV is easily spread by:
  • Direct contact, such as when dogs kiss, lick, or nuzzle each other 
  • Droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze 
  • Contaminated objects, such as doggie bowls, doorknobs, or clothing 
  • The hands of pet owners, veterinary clinic staff, and shelter workers 

Canine influenza is very contagious!

 Meaning that it is easily spread from dogs that are currently infected to healthy dogs. CIV can pass from dog to dog through virus particles in the air (eg, through coughing or sneezing) or by coming into physical contact with other dogs (touching noses). 

It can also be picked up if a dog touches or plays with objects that were touched by infected dogs (for example, food bowls, toys). Humans can even transfer the virus between dogs. For example, they may spread the virus if they touch an infected dog, or even touch a toy or doorknob that the dog has contacted, and then touch another dog before washing their hands.

Because of the increased risk of exposure, dog flu is more likely to be transmitted between dogs in locations where dogs are in groups, such as dog parks, kennels, and shelters. 

Reputable businesses that provide care for dogs should already be taking all precautions to prevent spread of infectious diseases such as canine influenza. 

FIGURE: Voluntary samples which does not reflect
the scope of dogs affected in each state. 
The map above of the United States highlights the states in which canine influenza has been documented. 

If your dog has any of the signs of CIV infection, you should consider the following: 
  • Keep him or her home and avoid activities where other dogs can be exposed while the dog is coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease, usually for about 2 weeks.
  • Keeping your dog’s toys and food and water bowls clean with soap and water can also help prevent spread of the disease. You should disinfect your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and wash clothing after exposure to dogs that have signs of respiratory disease to avoid transmitting infection to other dogs.
Knowledge and common sense are your best defenses against canine influenza, so be aware of any information about outbreaks of canine influenza in your area, and take appropriate precautions.

Signs of Canine Influenza Infection

Be alert for the following signs, which are common in dogs with canine influenza:
  • Mild, low-grade fever (103°F) 
  • Lethargy (tiredness) 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Cough, which may be dry or may bring up sputum 
  • Runny nose with clear secretions at first, but may later change to a thick and yellow and/or pink-tinged color 
If your dog shows any of these signs, contact your veterinarian and avoid taking the dog anywhere that other dogs may be exposed (other than the veterinarian's office, if so instructed) until it has made a full recovery.

Disease Course

Of those dogs exposed, the following statistics regarding the general course of illness have been reported:
  • Between 80 to 90% will develop clinical infection 
  • About 10 to 20% will become infected but will not show any signs; however, these dogs can still pass the virus to other dogs 
  • Most dogs will have a mild disease course 
  • Up to 20% of dogs may develop a more severe form, with a high fever (104-106°F) and pneumonia; these dogs must usually be admitted to the veterinary clinic for treatment 
  • Up to 8% of dogs may die from complications of CIV infection 
"In general, any dog that is in a closed room with other dogs for at least 6 hours or more can be considered at risk."

Ronald Schultz, PhD
Department of Pathobiological Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison