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Canine Influenza

Due to the recent canine influenza outbreak, we have been getting a lot of questions regarding this subject. Here is what we know and what we can do to keep our dogs safe. As of today, there have been confirmed cases of the H3N2 strain in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, which is the same strain as the one implicated in the 2015 outbreak in Illinois. The other canine influenza strain, which dates back to 2004, is the H3N8.


At this time, all dogs affected seem to have been exposed either at one of the the two dog shows (in Florida or Georgia), or exposed to dogs that attended either of those shows. The good news is that although 80% of dogs exposed to the virus will develop clinical signs, most dogs recover without complications. 


Here’s more information regarding this virus provided by the American Veterinary Medical Association:

  • Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a subclinical infection and shed the virus. H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure.

  • Clinical signs can vary from mild to severe. Initially, there may be no difference between a mild case of canine influenza and uncomplicated kennel cough. However, persistent cough, thick nasal discharge, lethargy, and fever are all very common with canine influenza and rare with kennel cough. Kennel cough patients will usually have a loud, dry, honking cough, but are otherwise acting, eating, and drinking normally.

  • Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing.

  • The virus can remain viable (alive and able to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. 

  • The H3N2 strain can also infect cats. Clinical signs in cats are similar to those in dogs.


At Kansas City Veterinary Care, we carry a bivalent vaccine (protects against both strains) which as of January 1, 2018 is required for boarding. If your dog’s lifestyle involves participating in events with dogs from across the state or country (dog shows, agility competitions, etc.), goes to a dog park or several different dog parks frequently, boards at a facility with high dog population, or has exposure to dogs whose health status is unknown, we recommend vaccinating against both strains. It is also important to note, that “kennel cough” and canine influenza are not the same disease. Having a dog up-to-date on the Bordetella Bronchiseptica vaccine for "kennel cough" will offer no protection against canine influenza. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate, give us a call, we’ll be glad to be of assistance.


For detailed information regarding both strains of canine influenza, visit the AVMA’s web site at

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