How to Protect Against Dog Flu: Get the Facts

You may have heard your mom or your grandma use the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, in some cases an ounce of prevention can prove invaluable, especially when it comes to our health and the health of our families – including our dogs!  There are lots of preventative steps people can take to ensure our good health and we are bombarded with those messages every day through TV news segments, online health sites and magazine articles. BUT, we don’t always get good information about what to do for our dogs. AND there is something I think every dog lover needs to know about – dog flu.

Two summers ago I remember hearing news accounts of large numbers of dogs contracting dog flu, known as canine influenza. Dogs were getting sick and some were even dying and, at first, people weren’t sure what was causing it. I first heard of this happening in Chicago, but then it was reported much nearer to us in Minneapolis. I started to get really nervous about taking Toby anywhere. I didn’t want him to get sick!

I should probably take a step back and fill you in on exactly what dog flu is and what it does. Unlike human flu, dog flu can strike year round. And H3N2, a new strain of the dog flu, emerged in 2015 and has continually caused outbreaks throughout the country. It is spread from dog to dog via direct contact with respiratory discharge, which could be in the air via a cough or forceful bark, or through contact with a contaminated object like a dog bowl, blanket or clothing.

Signs of dog flu include fever, cough, sneezing, ocular discharge, and lethargy. In the most severe cases, pneumonia may develop and critically ill dogs may even die from complications. Unfortunately, by the time dog flu is diagnosed it may have already been passed on to other dogs because it spreads very quickly. It can be passed on to other dogs for more than three weeks.

While it’s easier for us humans to take steps to prevent flu from spreading from one of us to another, it’s not so easy with dogs. They don’t understand the science behind not sharing drinking bowls or covering a cough or sneeze, or even avoiding others who are sick. Fortunately, you can now have your dog vaccinated by your veterinarian to help protect your dog.

Merck Animal Health is spreading the word about dog flu prevention with the If This Dog Could Talk campaign. So far it has made stops in Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte and Gilbert, Arizona to help raise awareness of dog flu and how to protect against it. Download the If This Dog Could Talk: Tour to Prevent Dog Flu Album, compiled in collaboration with The Dogist, to view beautiful photos gathered on the tour and find out what you can do to help protect against dog flu.

Download the Full Tour Album here.


About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 9-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as three lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.


  1. This is such great information! The dog flu is nothing to mess around with. We got our dogs vaccinated against it as soon as there was one available.

  2. Dawn Lopez says:

    Wow! Dog flu is seriously scary stuff. I would definitely have my dog vaccinated to be sure they are protected the best way possible.

  3. This is great advice. It really is important to get ahead of things like dog flu so you don’t have to worry! I didn’t know about that new strain!

  4. This is really important I think. I honestly do not even think about my dog getting the flu but now that I know more about it I definitely think I will be getting a vaccine for my pup!

  5. I hadn’t ever heard of the dog flu until recently. It’s better safe than sorry and I want to do o everything I can to protect my pets.

  6. I have never even heard of such a thing! Wow what great information to know! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Lisa Bristol says:

    I am going to check with my Vet this week about this vaccine. I have two dogs that are under 10 pounds. If they get the flu it could be really bad for dogs that small.

  8. Claudia Krusch says:

    I would hate for my dogs to get the dog flu. I will have to look into getting them the vaccine as soon as possible.

  9. It’s such a sad thing that they can get the flu too. I learned about this a few months back. It’s nice to see they have a vaccine for it though.

  10. I had no idea there was a dog flu! I will definitely be talking to my vet this week!

  11. This is such great information. I actually never knew dogs can get the flu!

  12. Thanks for sharing this information, and the doggie flu vaccination details. Sounds like something everyone should discuss with their vet.

  13. Great post! This was actually a topic I wanted to bring up to our vet at our dogs next visit. I’ll be keeping this as a great reference.

  14. Oh my goodness! I didn’t even know dogs can get the flu. I’m going to tell my mom and friends because I know their pets are their babies and they are miserable when their babies are feeling down. It’s great that there is something they can do!

  15. Thank you for the tips. I’ll be honest and say I never thought about my dog getting the flu. Now I know what to do and what to look for–

  16. I didn’t even know dogs could get the flu! I love that you’re getting the word out!

  17. Wow I had NO Idea that my dog could get the flu! Saving this valuable info!

  18. Kelly Hanley says:

    Thank you! Super helpful advice!

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