Is the Flu Transferrable between Dogs and Humans?

With flu season underway, everyone is rushing to their doctor’s office to get their flu vaccine. The last thing anyone wants to do is risk catching an illness that may keep you bed ridden for days. Not to mention you’ll be contagious to others living in your household or in your office. If you own pets, you may worry that the flu could be contagious to and from your dog as well. Fortunately, you don’t have to be too worried about transferring the virus between yourself and your dog. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there hasn’t been enough evidence yet to prove that we are contagious to and from our pets. This is because the strains that cause the human flu are different than the ones that affect our canine counterparts. 
In the case of canine influenza, there are two strains to look out for, the H3N8 virus and the H3N2 virus. If a dog contracts the disease, it can take him up to a few weeks to recover and it is contagious to other dogs and animals. Therefore, vets urge that owners keep their dogs away from other animals during recovery. In the case of canine to owner contact, up until now it hasn’t shown to pose a threat for humans. 
If your dog happens to come down with the flu or shows symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and/or loss of appetite, it’s important that you seek medical attention. Fortunately, the canine flu is treatable, but if left untreated it can be cause pneumonia or a severe version of the illness. Vaccinations for dogs are also available and vets can provide them to prevent the spread of canine flu. Most importantly, if you come in contact with a dog that is experiencing flu-like symptoms, you should wash your clothing, wipe down any surfaces the infected dog may have touched, and wash your hands thoroughly before touching your pet.  
Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at CVO@akc.org