TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- A warning for dog owners: A new strain of flu is affecting thousands of dogs all over the country. At least six in the Chicago area have died. It's causing many people to rethink boarding their dogs just as the summer travel season gets into full swing. This Angie's List report helps you know how to try to keep your pet flu-free.
Dog owners are looking to keep their furry friends away from the new strain of flu that's quickly spread to at least 30 states.
"The best preventative is complete avoidance of other dogs because the unfortunate thing about this particular virus is it's most contagious before they actually start showing clinical signs. So they're most contagious that two-to-four-day window before they start coughing, before their nose starts running," said associate veterinarian Dr. Arielle Pechette.
Coughing, sneezing, fever and loss of appetite are the main symptoms of this highly contagious virus. Puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems are most susceptible.
"While humans can't get the dog flu, they still can be a carrier of the dog flu and pass it from dog to dog. So, if you're around multiple dogs, be sure you're washing your hands, or even changing your clothes before interacting with each dog," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Because infected dogs may not be showing symptoms, there's no way to guarantee the virus won't reach your doggie day care or favorite boarding facility.
"If you are going to be boarding your dog this summer, be sure to discuss their protocol for how they would handle if the flu did arrive at the kennel, and if they don't have a good protocol, or they just kind of shrug it off, choose another kennel," said Hicks.
Dr. Pechette adds:"The good news is that most of the cases are mild. They say that almost every dog that comes in contact with it will get infected. Of those, only 80% will show clinical signs. So some dogs will get it and not even cough."
Keep a close eye out for symptoms in your dog this summer. If they appear, keep your dog away from others for at least two to three weeks until the virus has run its course. If you're taking a vacation and just can't bring your dog along, you can use a pet sitter instead of boarding.
Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.