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Are Swine Flu and Dog Flu the Same?

I just learned that dogs can catch H1N1. Is the Dog Flu that has been going around really the same thing as H1N1, or are...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Dec 10th 2009

I just learned that dogs can catch H1N1. Is the Dog Flu that has been going around really the same thing as H1N1, or are they two different type of virus’s?

I know of a rescuer who has 30 dogs, and has been treating them for the flu for the past three weeks. She has lost two dogs so far. They are now trying a third antibiotic and antibiotic shots. Her vet told her it was just the flu, and never mentioned that H1N1 could now be found in dogs. She just learned about it through the news media. She now thinks that they may indeed have H1N1.

Any further updates as to how many cases of H1N1 have been reported in dogs?

Thank you,

Long Island, NY

Canine influenza, also known as H3N8 influenza, is different from H1N1 influenza (also known as swine flu).

Canine influenza is much more common (in dogs) than H1N1. It is a much more serious health threat. It can pass directly among dogs, and it often sickens entire populations at kennels, greyhound racing facilities, and rescue organizations. Its mortality rate (due to pneumonia that sometimes develops as a complication) has been reported to be approximately 10%. The rescuer you mention appears to be dealing with a textbook outbreak of H3N8.

H1N1 can infect cats and possibly dogs, but it does not appear capable of passing among animals. All of the cats and dogs who have contracted H1N1 appear to have caught the virus from people. One cat appears to have died from H1N1, which means the virus is probably a much less serious health threat than lightening strikes, falling trees, and bee stings.

H3N8 is a lot like Dmitry Medvedev. He’s pretty important, he’s in the news now and then, but many Americans probably haven’t heard of him (even though they should have).

H1N1, on the other hand, is much like Paris Hilton. It’s in the news all the time because it’s in the news all the time. H1N1 is famous for being famous, but at the end of the day it’s really not that special. Even though every news channel and blog (including the Vet Blog) feels obliged to report on it all the time, it’s just the flu.

Photo: H1N1. Over-hyped. By Glenn Francis.