It’s easy to think that our pets are immune to the kinds of colds that we as humans often have to deal with, but that’s not accurate. As an example, dogs and cats are susceptible to the flu,  and so precaution and prevention is very important if we’re to keep our furry friends healthy.

With recent cases of the H3N2 Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in the state of Florida, officials from Osceola County Animal Services are urging residents to know the signs and take precautions to prevent the spread of this potentially deadly disease.

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine advises that CIV is a very contagious influenza virus that infects dogs. This virus that recently emerged in the U.S. in 2015. It has since infected thousands of dogs in more than 30 states, including seven recently-confirmed cases in Florida. H3N2 CIV also can infect cats, but there is no evidence that it can infect people.

H3N2 CIV causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is also known as “dog flu.” Common symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, and frequent coughing that can last for 2 weeks or more. Many dogs have a fever, decreased appetite, and lethargy during the first few days of the illness. Some dogs have more a more serious reaction to the disease, including pneumonia, that requires hospitalization. H3N2 CIV can cause respiratory infections in cats, too. The cats start sneezing and have nasal discharge, but do not usually cough.

The good news is that a vaccine for H3N2 VIC exists, and the most important step is to vaccinate your dog against the canine influenza viruses. Just like human flu vaccines, the H3N2 CIV vaccine may not completely prevent infection, but will make it less likely and less severe if a vaccinated dog does get infected. The vaccine also can protect against pneumonia. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccination against H3N2 CIV and other canine influenza viruses.

While no cases have been confirmed in Osceola County yet, officials urge pet owners to be observant in changes in behavior that could signal an infection, and to contact their veterinarians by phone before bringing a potentially infectious dog into their facility – and spreading the disease further.

“This is a new disease to Florida, which is why it is so important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible about getting your dog vaccinated. Also, if your pet is showing signs of illness, keep him/her away from other pets and contact your veterinarian immediately and follow instructions for additional precautions and the process for having your pet examined.” said Kim Staton, Animal Services Director.

If you need additional information, please contact Kim Staton at