Dog flu virus cross-species transmission to humans is now a growing dangerous possibility, experts warned.

The announcement was made after a study published last April 6, 2023, surfaced to reveal that the Dog flu virus, H3N2, mutated to become a canine-specific virus.

Researchers from China Agricultural University also sampled and analyzed swabs from 4,000 dogs and discovered that the virus is becoming better at recognizing human cell receptors.

This means that the virus is slowly adapting and now has a higher chance of replicating itself in a human cell.

The study indicates, “Our results showed that canines may serve as intermediates for the adaption of avian influenza viruses to humans.”

“For a human population that lacks immunity to the canine version of the virus, that’s cause for concern,” the researchers in their study added.

Further in the research, six infected dogs with the dog flu had mild symptoms like fever, sneezing, lethargy, and coughing.

canine virus h3n2
H3N2 canine influenza virus Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Credit:

Professor James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said in an interview, “The virus does not seem to pose particularly worrying health threats to dogs.”

He commented, “One might be more concerned about the longer-term pandemic potential in other species, such as humans.”

Professor James also commented on the recent findings about the dog flu, saying, “It is pretty clear that the bird flu H3 strain has become a dog-specific virus.”

Wood added, “The changes in the canine virus apparently are making it better adapted to transmit within mammals, as you might expect after such a long period in dogs.”

The H3N2 was originally a contagious and lethal avian virus that caused a lot of casualties in the bird population.

H3N2 successfully spread in the dogs, with the first reports of infection around 2006.

Currently, there has yet to be the first human infected with the virus strain, but world health leaders are on alert for the potential transmission in humans.

Earlier, in March 2016, the CDC's Influenza Risk Assessment Tool (IRAT) gave H3N2 a risk score of 3.7 and 3.8 in both of the IRAT risk questions.

CDC's IRAt deemed H3N2 as a low pandemic virus threat to the world due to the lack of sustained human-to-human transmission and actual human infection cases.