National Geographic News

Tanya Basu

National Geographic

Published November 15, 2013

'Tis the season for a flu shot for you and your loved ones, which may include your dog.

Yes, that virus that makes you feel achy, miserable, and generally gross can affect Fido, too.

Here are the answers to some common questions about getting your dog vaccinated.

How long has canine influenza been around?

According to researchers, canine influenza came to human attention in 2004, when Cornell University's Edward Dubovi sequenced the virus and sent it to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found that the virus was a mutated version of one found in horses, which had made it to to racing greyhounds in Florida. Humans can't get the virus from dogs, nor can dogs get it from us.

Should all dogs be vaccinated against the flu?

Probably not. If your dog stays indoors and doesn't come into contact with neighborhood dogs, the vaccination isn't necessary. But if Spot's going to be at doggy day care, getting trained, heading to the vet—if she's going anywhere where a lot of animals congregate—it might be smart to vaccinate. Keep in mind that canine influenza doesn't have a "season" per se; dogs can catch the flu all year round.

How do you know if your dog has the flu?

Symptoms of canine influenza are similar to the human version: coughing, lethargy, and nasal discharge. In rare cases, it may lead to pneumonia.

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6 comments
Scott Gounaris
Scott Gounaris

I'm a veterinarian and Roger Bird obviously isn't.  Canine influenza is not some made up disease but it is normally recommended only for dogs who socialize with other dogs, not for dogs kept inside their homes all the time.

Roger Bird
Roger Bird

I have never seen nor heard of a dog getting the flu.  So there is absolutely no need for this other than for people who have their lips super-glued to the rear ends of the pharmaceutical companies and enjoy wallowing in anxiety.

Bra Sidas
Bra Sidas

Given that the human flu virus mutates so often that the human vaccine only protects humans from the flu strains prevalent in one particular year, if at all, how is the human flu vaccine going to protect dogs, which according to the article are infected by a flu virus completely different from the human flu virus?

Roger Bird
Roger Bird

@Scott Gounaris   I stand corrected.  But my paranoia is based upon years and years of being lied to by the pharmaceutical industry.

Tanya Basu
Tanya Basu

@Bra Sidas The vaccine used on dogs has been developed specifically for dogs. In other words, the canine influenza vaccine is completely different from the human influenza vaccine.

Bra Sidas
Bra Sidas

@Tanya Basu @Bra Sidas  

Thank you.  I stand corrected.

This opening line of the article made me think the author meant the human flue vaccine: 

"You might want to bring man's best friend with you on your way to get a flu shot." 

and

 "Yes, that virus that makes you feel achy, miserable, and generally gross can affect Fido, too."

 Nowhere does it say that it is a dog flu virus vaccine.

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