Local veterinarian discusses dog flu symptoms

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. The flu continues its spread this year among people, but you may not realize your pets are at risk for a flu of their own. Multiple strains of the canine influenza are making the rounds nationwide. Two strains of the dog flu have shown up in Missouri and one so far in Arkansas.

"I'll do anything I can to keep her protected and healthy," said Debbie Small, the owner of a 12-year-old Shih Tzu named Velvet.

Velvet is very loved and very healthy. Small made a stop at the vet's office this week for a vaccine for canine influenza, more commonly known as dog flu.

"It's a very highly contagious virus," said Dr. Phillip Brown.

"Right now we've had thousands of cases, and it's pretty much spread through most states in the United States," Brown said.

There are multiple strains of the potentially deadly flu making the rounds nationwide, according to research from the website www.dogflu.com, run by Merck.

"We start out with a dog that develops a temperature of 104 to 106. It's not eating. It's laying around a little bit. It sneezes, hacks coughs, vomits, and just a lot of lethargy and goes downhill from there," Dr. Brown said.

Those symptoms can quickly turn into pneumonia.

"They say that it's good for humans to get a flu vaccine. Why shouldn't we get a flu vaccine for dogs as well?" Small said.

Brown said your pet might be at risk if you frequent dog parks, board your dog, go to the groomer, or use pet daycare. Brown said some big-box pet stores could also potentially contain germs from other dogs.

If you have concerns about your pet's health or potential of contracting the disease, you should speak with your veterinarian.