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Two strains of dog flu pose risk to pets

AVON LAKE, Ohio-- Karl Guenther says his Australian labradoodle Cooper is only be 12 weeks old, but he is already taking the necessary steps to protect him against a deadly strain of the flu.

"We have had him vaccinated because, as bad as it is with humans and it's hard for them to tell us what's wrong with them. So rather be safe than sorry,” Guenther said.

Canine flu is a contagious viral disease that can spread quickly and affects a dog’s respiratory system.

"There's probably been a higher concern for it lately, as we have seen more cases in Ohio this year," said Dr. Michael Haddad with Avon Lake Animal Clinic.

Haddad said there have been confirmed outbreaks in Columbus and Toledo. Even more alarming, there are two different strains, one more dangerous than the other.

"There is H3N2 and H3N8. These two types of dog flu are both from different species, but in H3N2, dogs can actually carry for up to 24 days."

Symptoms of canine flu include persistent cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, loss of appetite and loss of energy. In the most severe cases, the virus could develop into pneumonia.

So is your dog at risk? Well, if you take them to the dog park, doggy day care and even the groomer, the answer is yes.

“So it's passed airborne. It can be from sneezing, close proximity to other dogs. You can transfer it from your clothes from a person with an infected dog to a non-infected dog,” Haddad said.

"I'm not a big fan of dog parks for that reason. If they get sick from the viruses or anything like that, we try to stay away," Guenther said.

But prevention is key.

Just as you take steps to protect yourself from the flu every year by getting vaccinated, veterinarians say it’s important that for our dogs, we do the same.

More stories on the dog flu here