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Veterinary Viewpoints: Fido can get the flu, too

Monday, April 24, 2023

Media Contact: Kaylie Wehr | Coordinator, Marketing and Public Relations | 405-744-6740 |

Look out, there is another virus in town! Nope, not that one. This virus is infecting our canine companions and there are a few things you should know about it. 

Canine influenza, also known as the “dog flu,” is a respiratory infection that is rapidly spreading among dogs throughout Oklahoma. In fact, you may have recently read or heard about outbreaks in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City that forced their largest shelters to shut their doors while they worked to get this virus under control. The currently circulating type of canine influenza was first identified in the U.S. in March 2015 and has now been identified in most regions of the country.

Thankfully, canine influenza doesn’t infect people, but take care to keep your hands washed to help minimize the potential spread to other dogs. Infected dogs typically end up with a cough and a runny nose, and may feel depressed or feverish, much like when we get the flu. Unfortunately, our pups don’t have established immunity to this infection, meaning any dog in contact with other dogs is at risk.

Some infected dogs end up with no signs of disease but can still spread the virus. Most dogs have mild disease that resolves on its own with no specific treatments. Rarely, infected dogs can develop severe pneumonia and even die from the infection. I know that sounds scary, but all of our pet owners can be involved in getting this outbreak under control. 

Here is how:

  • If you notice a cough, runny nose or gunky eyes in your dog, call your veterinarian to get advice on when to be seen. Your veterinarian may ask you to come at a specific time or enter a particular way to be able to help your pet without risking viral spread to other animals in the hospital.
  • Ask your veterinarian about the canine influenza vaccine series. It is a two-dose series administered three to four weeks apart that will protect your pets if they are exposed to canine influenza. The vaccine is very safe and effective.
  • Unless your pet is protected through vaccination, limit interactions with other dogs until the outbreak subsides. High-risk settings may include shelters, boarding facilities, doggie daycares and classes. Be sure your pets have collars with tags or are microchipped and that fences are secure. If your pet attends daycare or a boarding facility, ask about how to protect your pup through vaccination prior to their stay.
  • Support your local shelters through your gifts and encouragement as they navigate this outbreak. They need their community’s support!

Your veterinarian will be your greatest asset in keeping your furry companions safe. Reach out and have a conversation if you have questions. Together, we can keep our dogs safe and protected!

About the author: Jennifer Rudd, DVM, PhD, DACVM, is a fully licensed veterinarian, educator and researcher with a specialization in infectious diseases. After graduating with her doctorate in veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State in 2011, Rudd practiced small animal medicine and surgery (general practitioner) for several years before returning to her alma mater to pursue her doctorate in comparative biomedical sciences, with an emphasis on the innate immune response to pandemic influenzas and bacterial coinfections in people. Rudd is now an assistant professor at OSU College of Veterinary Medicine where she enjoys continuing to pursue her passions of teaching future veterinarians and researching infectious diseases.

Veterinary Viewpoints is provided by the faculty of the OSU Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Certified by the American Animal Hospital Association, the hospital is open to the public providing routine and specialized care for all species, as well as emergency care. Call 405-744-7000 for an appointment or see more information at

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