Dog flu concerns across Ohio: Here’s what you need to know

AVON LAKE, Ohio -- Dog flu concerns are on the rise across Ohio after a spike in suspected cases caused many kennels and pet groomers to now require the canine influenza vaccine.  

“There’s been a lot of cases recently,” said Dr. Carmen Petti, with Avon Lake Animal Clinic.

The highly contagious H3N2 strain is usually transmitted from dog to dog, but can also be picked up on clothing and carried home by the owner, where the virus can live up to 48 hours. 

In 2015, more than one thousand dogs became ill or died in Chicago, before the virus migrated to other states including Ohio.

Since then there have been 87 confirmed cases in the Buckeye State, according to researchers at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

However, some veterinarians suspect that number could be much higher, because Cornell only receives test results from certain reference laboratories and not every sick dog is even tested for the flu.

“The testing is more complicated than other diseases,” said Dr. Petti.

Symptoms include: fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and lethargy.

Dogs that are frequently around other dogs are most at risk.

Puppies and older dogs are susceptible to secondary and more serious illness making prevention critical.

Plus dogs can be contagious and sick for days without showing symptoms.

Dr. Petti says, thats why they now recommend the virus to more patients.

“One rule of thumb is if your dog gets the Bordetella vaccine, then it most likely needs canine influenza,” said Dr. Petti.

That's something Joe and Linda Huska wish they’d known.

Their terrier Lola seemed healthy other than a slight cough for a couple days.

“Like she was trying to clear her throat,” said Linda.

Until June 5, when the 9-year-old woke up in the middle of the night coughing, spitting up mucous with shallow breathing.

They say within minutes, she suddenly passed away.

They don’t know if it was dog flu, but are getting their other pup vaccinated immediately and warning other pet owners.

“I wish we’d known,” said Linda. "She’s missed a lot ... our lives will never be the same.”