Skip to Content

Canine Influenza Shot: Does My Dog Need It?

November 7th, 2016 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Does your dog play with other dogs? The canine influenza shot may be worth considering.

Wondering if your dog needs the canine influenza shot?

It protects against the latest strain of dog flu.

It depends.

Several prominent dog care and boarding facilities in Castle Rock have considered requiring the canine influenza shot:

  • Camp Bow Wow currently requires the vaccine.
  • Tails Up considered requiring it. They’ve decided not to require it for now.

If your dog goes to Camp Bow Wow, we should chat about the shot.

Otherwise, it really depends on your dog’s lifestyle.

If your dog visits dog parks, groomers, doggie daycares, boarding facilities or is just a social dog, you may want to consider the shot — or simply keep your eye on the issue.

If your dog has limited exposure to other dogs and dog-oriented facilities, your furry friend may not need the shot.

Let’s take a closer look!

First things first, what is canine influenza (aka, “dog flu”)?

Canine influenza (“dog flu”) is an upper respiratory disease caused by a virus.

It’s more severe than many upper respiratory diseases — including Bordetella — because the infection can progress into viral pneumonia.

Much like the human form of the flu, canine influenza is very contagious.

Dogs around other dogs -- like at dog obedience -- are vulnerable to dog flu.

What is the canine influenza shot?

The canine influenza shot protects against that latest strain of dog flu.

The shot helps your dog produce immunity.

The virus is constantly mutating. The latest strain of canine influenza appeared in the United States in 2015.

There was a dog flu outbreak in Chicago. Since then, the latest strain has spread to different states across the country.

Because this is a new strain of the disease, most dogs don’t have natural immunity to it.

It’s something we’re talking about in Castle Rock because some dog boarding facilities and daycares now require it.

 Get your dog’s shots up-to-date!

We welcome new and existing pet families. Call us at 303-688-3757. Or:

Book your visit here

How can my dog get dog flu?

There are a number of ways your dog can get dog flu:

  • Through the air when an infected dog sneezes, coughs or barks
  • By touching a contaminated object or surface, such as a water or food bowl, leash, floor, crate, grooming table, etc.
  • Through nose-to-nose contact with an infected dog… and keep in mind, that dog may not be showing outward symptoms yet
  • Through contact with people who are going back and forth between healthy and infected dogs

As the American Veterinary Medical Association will tell you, the virus can stay alive for a while. It can live on:

  • Surfaces for up to two days
  • Clothing for up to a full day
  • Hands for 12 hours

The canine influenza virus can be passed on at the groomer.

When are dogs most contagious?

Here’s the tricky thing about the dog flu: The most contagious dogs are the ones that don’t have any outward symptoms yet.

Canine influenza has a two- to four-day incubation period before dogs begin showing any signs they’re sick.

Are certain dogs more vulnerable to it?

Canine influenza is more likely to be an issue for a dog that’s around other dogs.

If your dog is a bit of a couch potato and/or really only interacts with neighbors’ dogs that are unlikely to be sick, your dog is less likely to be affected.

How often is the canine influenza shot needed?

Initially, your dog receives a shot and then a second one four weeks later.

After that, one shot is needed yearly.

Two dogs look at the camera after hearing "dog flu shot."

How long does it take before the vaccine goes into effect?

Like other vaccinations, the shot isn’t effective right away.

In this case, your dog isn’t fully protected until the week after the second shot.

How effective is the dog flu shot?

Generally, it’s more than 95% effective.

Where can I learn more?

The American Veterinary Medical Association has several great articles on canine influenza:


Tips from a Castle Rock veterinarian: 8 tips to keep your dog safe & happy in Castle Rock


Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on dog flu and the canine influenza shot. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call: 303-688-3757.)

© 2016, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Back to top