Local vets warning about the concerns, signs of the dog flu

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LAKEWOOD - As the dog flu outbreak in Chicago continues to spread, pet owners in Northeast Ohio are now growing concerned that the virus might move into this area.

The canine influenza virus has grown to “significant proportions” in the Windy City leading to warning signs being posted at dog friendly areas and pet owners rushing to get their dogs vaccinated.

At the Lakewood Dog Park, dog owner Anup Garg said, “It’s going to spread, so might as well take care of it now and the more pet owners that do the better chance we have at containing it.”

Fox 8 checked with several Northeast Ohio veterinarians who said they’ve been receiving a dramatic spike in calls from worried pet owners wanting the vaccine.

However, so far there are only a few suspected but unconfirmed cases of the illness locally.

The H3N8 virus is not contagious to humans, but extremely contagious to canines.

Dogs that would be most at-risk are those that spend a significant amount of time in close proximity to many other dogs like kennels and doggie daycares.

The American Veterinary Medical Association had suggested that only dogs in high-risk zones get vaccinated.

Dr. Greg Cunningham from the Detroit Road Animal Hospital in Westlake said, "We would take a stand of let’s see what it looks like; if there is a large number of animals becoming ill, absolutely- get the vaccine to prevent it, but at this point we aren’t seeing that.”

However, Dr. Cunningham said it is important for all pet owners to be alert because the illness can start as a cough and quickly move to pneumonia.

Symptoms include: coughing, fever, trouble breathing, runny nose, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

The infection can last two weeks with an incubation period of 2-5 days, but most dogs will recover with immediate care which includes antibiotics.

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