A vaccinated dog sitting on the beach during sunset

Flu vaccine for dogs

Team Walmart Pets

May 27, 2021


min read

When the cold weather rolls in, it’s time to roll up your sleeves for your annual flu shot. Getting the vaccine not only reduces the chances of you getting sick, but it also helps protect those with whom you come into contact every day — a sort of “community immunity.” But do you need to give a yearly shot for your dog, too?

The short answer is: maybe. But there’s more to the story.

Canine influenza A

Canine influenza A virus, also known as the canine flu, is a highly contagious disease that causes respiratory tract infections in dogs.

There are two subtypes of the canine influenza A virus: H3N8 and H3N2. The canine flu can spread quickly, especially in crowded environments like shelters, pet stores, kennels, and dog parks. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, and fever.

Flu shots for dogs

Vaccines are available for both subtypes of the canine flu, and a two-dose vaccine that covers both subtypes in one shot is also available. Be aware, the canine influenza vaccine doesn’t prevent the disease entirely. It reduces the severity of the disease and reduces the amount of virus shed into the environment — just like the human vaccine. 

However, unlike the human flu shot, the canine influenza vaccine stays the same year after year. Human flu shots vary annually based on the strain of flu that is predicted to circulate during the coming flu season. Since canine influenza basically stays the same year after year, the vaccine can stay the same, too.

Do dogs need vaccine shots?

Whether or not your dog is at risk for the canine flu and should be vaccinated is a question for your vet.

If your pet frequents places that are crowded with other dogs or boards frequently, or if there is an outbreak near you, you should probably get your dog vaccinated. If your dog is a couch potato and doesn’t leave your yard, chances are his risk of exposure is pretty low and he can skip his flu shot this year.


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Photo by Jessica Christian on Unsplash