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Canine Influenza (CIV)
(Scientific Name: H3N8)

It's no surprise that even our domesticated canines can get the common flu just like us. The influenza is contracted when the dog comes in contact with a specific viral infection. In a multi-animal household, your pets will often catch the flu from another sick animal. The good news is that 20% of dogs who catch the canine flu will not show any symptoms. However, up to 8% of dogs with canine influenza will die from the disease. Schering-Plough has a vaccine which decreases the severity of the symptoms, but there is no vaccine which prevents the canine influenza at this time.


The canine influenza in the United States is caused by one strain of the Influenza Type A virus known as H3N8. It is believed that this type of canine influenza was once an equine influenza virus which mutated and then spread to dogs.

There is another more severe strain of canine influenza in Korea, believed to have come from a bird flu strain, known as H3N2. This virus is very contagious and tends to infect a dog's respiratory system. However, this type of canine flu has not been seen outside of Korea.

Dogs of any age and breed can get canine influenza from other dogs since the virus is transmitted through the air. Normally, canines infected with the dog flu will make a complete recovery within two to three weeks. However, older canines and young puppies may get a severe case of dog flu; and, if left untreated too long, it could lead to pneumonia. Pet owners need to be aware of what symptoms to look for and when to take their beloved canines to the vet for further treatment.

SYMPTOMS: There are a number of symptoms that a dog may exhibit when it has become infected with the dog flu. The first and most obvious symptom is usually coughing, often accompanied by a low fever.

Dogs suffering with a mild form of canine influenza (which accounts for about 80% of all canine flu cases) develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may start to gag or choke as if they are about to vomit something up. There may also be the presence of a thick nasal discharge, usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.



However, other dogs with canine flu may develop a dry, hacking cough similar to kennel cough. Canine influenza viral infections are often mistaken for kennel cough at first. Canine influenza tends to last longer, and if any signs are more severe than constant coughing, it is likely to be from canine influenza.

Other common symptoms of canine influenza include runny nose and sneezing. A loss of appetite and energy are also common in a flu-infected dog; just like with humans.

Dogs with a severe form of canine influenza will also develop a high fever (104ºF to 106ºF). If the dog has a fever of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, then the flu is considered ‘severe’ and it is time to see your veterinarian so they can examine your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment, often involving hospitalization.



A canine with dog flu will also suffer from dehydration; in large part to a fever your canine may have developed. Your dog may be dehydrated if he or she isn't drinking enough water or going to the bathroom as often as they normally do. Dehydration can be life-threatening;' so it is important to keep an eye on your sick pet and consult with a veterinarian if you suspect dehydration. Depending on how dehydrated your canine has become, your veterinarian may immediately administer fluids to end the danger of dehydration.

A severe case of canine influenza can also lead to clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may also be due to a secondary bacterial infection and will require immediate attention by your veterinarian. A broad spectrum antibiotic (a substance that kills – or inhibits – the growth of microorganisms like bacteria) may be prescribed if a secondary bacterial infection is identified by your veterinarian. Your dog may be hospitalized and may even require oxygen.

Once the canine influenza has been diagnosed, treatment will typically focus on supporting and improving your canine’s immune system to help fight the virus, as well as supporting the lungs.

Dogs that are coughing, sneezing or exhibiting any other signs of respiratory distress should not be allowed around other dogs (including play groups, boarding, kennels and daycare) because of the ease of spreading the canine influenza to other dogs through the air.

Anyone exposed to dogs showing signs of respiratory distress or canine influenza, should clean and disinfect all clothing, equipment, surfaces and hands to prevent the transmission of infection to other susceptible dogs. Disposable gloves should also be worn by persons handling infected dogs or cleaning contaminated cages.






When it comes to your canine getting the flu, the most common treatment is to just let it run its course – just like you normally do with the human flu. You can use some of the home remedies detailed below to help alleviate their symptoms and bolster their immune system to fight off the flu. However, there is no need for your sick canine to suffer a long time if they are really feeling bad. If your dog is running a high fever or having difficulty breathing, or you are unsure of what to do, check with your veterinarian!



The most important remedy is to keep your sick canine drinking and eating. Dehydration is a major symptom of dog flu along with loss of appetite. Make sure your dog still drinks a lot of water and eats small pieces of food as well. If you are not able to keep your dog properly hydrated, you should consult with your veterinarian to avoid the dangerous side effects of dehydration.

Since the dog flu affects the canine’s respiratory system, you can also use different types of herbs (listed below) to help strengthen the dog's respiratory system. These herbs can also help soothe and open the ailing dog’s nose, lungs, throat and airways making your sick canine much more comfortable.


Integrative Medicine



Not all animals can use all natural remedies; allergic reactions to oils and/or herbs and digestive problems are possible. A natural remedy is not a substitute for veterinary care.



The following nutraceuticals or natural/herbal formulas can also provide effective treatment for your canines dealing with canine influenza.


» Sambucus Nigra: This flower will help sooth your dog’s infected respiratory system.


» Verbascum Thapsus/mullein leaves: These herbs will also help open and sooth the dog's nose, lungs and throat.


» Calc sulph, Ferrum phos and Hepar sulph: Helps keep the dog's airways open and clear.


Canine Influenza (Immune Support)
– Canine Products –

(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)

(Live Link)






1 capsule per 20 lb bid or 1 scoop per 20 lb bid

Maintains optimal health and supports recovery.

Canine Sports Basics12 or Canine Geriatric Basics12

Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb sid

Provides supportive nutrients.

Cellular Forte with IP-6 28

Dogs: ¼-1 capsule bid

Stimulates the immune system.


Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb sid

Nutrients enhance immune function.


Small dog: 1 capsule/10 lb bid

Improves gut barrier function; immune modulator.


Dogs: 1 scoop/25 lb bid

Improves gut barrier function; immune modulator.


Dogs: 2 capsules/25 lb sid (give between meals)

Plant sterols and sterolins enhance immune function and decrease autoimmune antibody production.


Dogs: 1 drop/1 lb sid-bid
(1 dropperful = 30 drops)

Increases macrophage activity, NK-cell activity, resistance to infection, IgG and IgM response, interleukins, interferon, humoral and cellular immune functions.


Dogs: 1 capsule/ 25 lb bid

Herbs, vitamins, and zinc for immune support.

Yu Ping Fan San25

Dogs: 2-4 pills bid or tid

Tonifies Qi and stabilizes the exterior.



Canine Influenza (Canine Bronchitis)
– Canine Products –

(Reference: Veterinarians’Desk Reference)

(Live Link)





Astra C23

Dogs: ½-2 tablets bid or tid

Nutrients and Chinese herbs that help the respiratory system; most effective when used at first sign of infection.

Canine Geriatric Basics12

Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb sid

Broad-spectrum nutrients including some antioxidants.


Dogs: 1 capsule sid

Mucolytic and antioxidant.

Dispel Invasion24

Dogs under 20 lbs: 2 drops bid
Dogs 20-50 lb: 3 drops bid
Dogs over 50 lb: 4 drops bid

Releases the exterior.

Er Chen Wan25

Dogs: 2-4 pills bid or tid

Removes excess phlegm and damp from lungs, stops cough, relieves chest congestion.


Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb sid

Decreases pulmonary fibrosis.

Small Animal

Dogs: 2 capsules/25 lb sid

Broad-spectrum antioxidant formula.

Super EPAVET12 or
Omega PlusVET12

Dogs: 1-2 gelcaps/25 lb sid

Anti-inflammatory; enhances the immune system.

ImmunoVET-Fc12 or ImmunoVET-C12

Small dogs (Fc): 1 capsule/10 lb bid
Larger dogs (C): 1 scoop/25 lb bid

Boost immune system in immunocompromised dogs.


To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference
(Click Here)



(Always consult with your veterinarian to properly diagnose any health problems. Misdiagnosis and/or mistreatment -- including OTC and/or homeopathic products -- can lead to dangerous complications.)



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