Veterinarians warn pet owners about dog flu in Tri-State

LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - Veterinarians are encouraging dog owners to take precautions because the dog flu is now believed to be in the Tri-State area.

Canine influenza infects like the human flu. It can spread through a cough or a sneeze, a shared leash or even through a pet owner's clothes. It doesn't matter whether your animal is at a dog park, a doggy daycare or at the vet.

"It can definitely be serious," Dr. Caitlin Amiot with the Lebanon Small Animal Clinic said. "It's something that can spread pretty quickly. It's a highly contagious influenza."

There are at least three unconfirmed local cases of the dog flu. One of the dogs believed to have the illness was treated at the Lebanon Small Animal Clinic with IV fluids and antibiotics.

"Dog could be shedding that virus at a dog park and a dog picks it up and goes to the vet to get a shot and all of a sudden, they've exposed everybody there," Reed Newland with Sit Means Sit Cincinnati said.

Dr. Amiot said the symptoms are similar to kennel cough.

"That's a dog that's hacking with a non-productive cough, sometimes nasal discharge whether it's of normal color clear or a goopy green discharge," Dr. Amiot said.

Sit Means Sit Cincinnati, a dog training facility, just learned that a dog that was part of a group class last week is now showing signs of the dog flu.

The owners have temporarily closed the facility and delayed classes to clean and disinfect anything and everything.

"Doing bleach water on all the floors, all the walls," Newland said.

While most canines survive the sickness, it typically requires several days of hospitalization and can lead to bacterial pneumonia which can be tough on the pet's health and hard on the owner's wallet.

Vets near and far believe that prevention is key. They encourage pet owners to get their dogs vaccinated for the dog flu, especially dogs that are often around other canines. 

"We want to avoid any sort of outbreak or epidemic," Dr. Amiot said.

Sit Means Sit Cincinnati is making it mandatory for all current and future clients to have their dogs vaccinated with the canine influenza vaccine.

The Lebanon Small Animal Clinic is one of many vets around the area that offers the vaccine.

If you notice your dog coughing or not eating normally, you're encouraged to call your vet.

There are two strains of canine influenza. You can read more about it here.

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