Veterinarians encourage vaccines as dog flu keeps spreading

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Veterinarians throughout the Chicago area are encouraging dog owners to have their pets vaccinated against the dog flu, alerting owners that the virus is very contagious.

Cody and Lilly are not related but they live in the same household and their owner is concerned about the dog flu.

"They're regularly exposed to other dogs coming to day care and so forth. They do go to this day care and a couple others," says Linda Bruce as she took them to get vaccinated. "So we just wanted to be prepared."

The vaccine is a simple shot and a quick office visit that, after about two weeks, can keep your dog pretty safe from catching the dog flu. Without it, there is little protection.

While dog flu was a big concern early in 2015, the vaccine at the time was apparently largely ineffective.

"Drug companies come out with a news strain, which they isolated from Chicago," says Dr. David Aul of the Care Animal Clinic.

The virus is airborne, so dogs who breathe in the germs from an infected dog can catch it.

"Those dogs at risk are the dogs who spend a lot of time around other dogs," says Dr. Peter Hasse of Care Animal Clinic.

Unlike in humans, dog flu is not seasonal. Canines can catch it any time of the year, in any place.

"We worry about the outdoor facilities because this is fenced in but it's still open, so there's some ventilation, but the inside facilities are where the dogs can catch it worse than outdoor facilities," Dr. Rosemarie Niznik of Chicago Veterinary Medicine Association. Veterinarians are asking clients bringing in dogs who may have the flu to avoid the waiting room so as not to expose other canines to the virus.

Even in outdoor facilities, dogs come into contact with each other and can spread the virus. The dog flu typically lasts a couple weeks, but dogs are most contagious within the first couple days often before they exhibit symptoms.
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