Pros and Cons of Dog Flu Vaccine

August 9, 2022by DOGuide0

The canine influenza vaccine has only been around since 2009. Before that time, dogs did not receive a flu vaccine. Now that it is available, it’s a good idea to know the pros and cons of dog flu vaccine before agreeing to it for your pup.


Background on the Dog Flu Vaccine

The canine influenza vaccine was made when cases of dog flu started to increase, specifically H3N2 and H3N8.

The H3N8 strain was identified at a racing kennel in Florida where many pups became ill. They caught the flu virus from the horses they were in close proximity with, which is where H3N8 originated.

It was the H3N8 strain that prompted the USDA to approve the first dog flu vaccine by the company Intervet.

The other strain H3N2 is a flu virus that spread through Asia. It started in 2006. The origination of that virus was in birds.

In 2015, H3N2 made its way to the United States. Dogs started being diagnosed with it in Chicago, which prompted another flu vaccine for dogs, created by Zoetis. Jumping on the bandwagon, Merck Animal Health made another vaccine for the illness.

Now that you have the background of the dog flu vaccine, let’s identify the pros and cons of dog flu vaccine.


dog flu vaccine pros and cons


Pros and Cons of Dog Flu Vaccine

Reviewing the pros and cons of dog flu vaccine can help you as a dog owner make the right decision for you and your pet.

Pros of Dog Flu Vaccine

The following are the pros of the dog flu vaccine.

Protection from Life-Threatening Illness

While most dogs suffer from mild symptoms, there have been some canines that have died from the canine influenza virus. The dog flu vaccine can protect a pet from suffering from the most serious symptoms associated with the illness.

Stop the Spread of Canine Influenza Virus

Infected dogs infect other dogs. When dogs are protected from the flu, they do not pass it along, which means eventually it won’t be a problem for any dogs anymore.

Reduces Damage to the Lung

One of the consequences of suffering from a respiratory condition such as the flu is that it could cause damage to the lungs, including upper respiratory infection. Dog owners with vaccinated dogs won’t have to worry about that happening.

Supports the Immune System

Even the strongest immune system can have trouble fighting off the severity of influenza. The vaccine gives a dog’s immune system some power against the virus, so that it doesn’t last as long or cause as much damage as it would without it.

Safety from High Risk Areas

Dogs who frequent dog parks, boarding facilities, doggy day care, and other places with a lot of dogs around are more at risk of catching the flu. Dog owners should consider risk when deciding if they should get the flu shot for their pup.

Save Older Dog’s Life

Older dogs often have chronic medical issues that could be exacerbated if they catch influenza. The flu shot can prevent them from catching the illness and get through it much easier if they do become infected.

Now you know the pros of the dog flu vaccine. Before you make a decision, consider the cons of the dog flu vaccine.

Recommended by American Animal Hospital Association

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that dogs at risk of being exposed to the influenza virus be vaccinated against H3N2 and HsN8 strains.


pros and cons of the dog flu vaccine


The Cons of the Dog Flu Vaccine

The following identifies the cons of the dog flu vaccine.

Adverse Reactions

Like with any vaccine a dog or human receive, there may be adverse reactions and some may be life-threatening such as anaphylactic shock. Speak to your veterinarian about this if your pup has suffered any reaction after receiving the rabies vaccine, bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine, or any of the other core vaccinations.

Adverse events should be considered serious. Contact an emergency veterinarian if you notice respiratory distress in your dog.

Side Effects

Vaccinated dogs often suffer from fatigue, but some may also suffer from:

  • Pain
  • Respiratory issues
  • Swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Keep an eye on your dog when he/she receives a vaccine to ensure there are no adverse events.

Immune System Weakening

Too many vaccines can have the opposite effect on a dog’s immune system, which can lead to not being able to fight off disease and infection.

Dog owners should speak with their veterinarian about staggering annual vaccinations, so they do not compound the immune system. For instance, instead of having a pup receive the rabies vaccine and kennel cough vaccine at the same time, it may be better to wait a month in between them.


The cost of the flu vaccine is between $25 to $60. The effects of the vaccine only last for a year.


The influenza vaccine for dogs comes in two doses. The second dose is administered two to three weeks after the first dose. A booster must be given annually to remain protected from the virus.

Death Rate

Most dogs do not die from canine influenza – the death rate is 10%. While it may protect against other conditions that could be by-products of the virus, such as upper respiratory infection, actually dying from the flu is not common.


How to Make a Decision on Giving Your Dog the Flu Vaccine

You’ve reviewed the pros and cons of dog flu vaccine, which has given you the information needed to make a decision. If you’re still unsure what is right for you and your dog, don’t hesitate to contact your dog’s vet. By considering the risks vs. benefits, you likely come to a decision that feels right.


Other Non-Core Vaccines for Consideration

The dog flu vaccine isn’t the only non-core vaccine to consider. There’s also the Lyme disease vaccine and lepto vaccine.

Should You Dog Get the Lyme Disease Vaccine?

The Lyme disease vaccine is not a core vaccine but is available for dogs that are at increased risk of suffering from Lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Dogs living in areas with a high population of ticks are at increased risk of suffering from the disease and should get the Lyme disease vaccine. Dogs already with Lyme disease or those that have urinary protein issues should not receive the Lyme disease vaccine.

Should You Give Your Dog the Lepto Vaccine?

Leptospirosis (lepto) is a disease caused by bacteria that humans and dogs can become infected with easily. Dogs at risk of leptospirosis are those that go outside often, even if it’s just for a potty break.

The leptospirosis vaccine is a non-core vaccine in the United States, which means it’s not required.

It’s important to speak to your vet about the leptospirosis vaccine to weigh the risks vs. benefits of giving it to your pup.


covid vaccine for dogs


COVID Vaccine for Dogs

We can’t end this article about dog flu shots without discussing the virus that has taken over our lives over the last couple of years – COVID-19.

Is There a COVID-Vaccine for Dogs?

Dogs can catch COVID-19, but so far, they only suffer from mild symptoms. Due to COVID not being a serious problem for canines, there hasn’t been a COVID vaccine for dogs created.


Comment Below About the Pros and Cons of Dog Flu Vaccine

Comment below about what you think about the dog flu vaccine and if you’re going to have your pup get it.

by DOGuide

Dog Ownership Guide – D.O.G. – launched in 2021 to meet the needs of dog owners and their dogs worldwide. Our website is a place to not only learn, shop, and entertain, but share as well. Leave a comment, contact us, or learn more about the founder.

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