MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With summer travel on many pet owners’ minds, vets are asking owners to take precautions and make sure their pets are vaccinated against the dog flu.
Doctor Mark Hayes said the canine flu presents itself like kennel cough, making it difficult to identify and it spreads easily.
“It’s usually transmitted dog to dog but it can also linger on clothing from animals that have been handled so the human that has handled that dog, their clothing could stay infected for 24 hours,” said Hayes.
Doctor Hayes says vaccination is key to protect your dog. The shots target both the H3N2 strain and the H3N8 strain that have been infecting dogs across the country. The vaccinations are only effective if they are followed up by a booster shot.
Doctor Hayes said timing may be a problem.
“We are in the midst of summer so it’s a little bit of a problem because if you have a vacation scheduled in the next week or two, even if we vaccinate your dog today, we can’t get that booster in for three weeks,” said Hayes.
Researchers analyzing the dog flu said the strains have the potential to infect other animals as well.
“It has been shown to infect cats and perhaps ferrets,” said Veterinarian Melissa Kennedy.
Doctor Hayes said if you’re going on vacation, take precautions now to keep your dog and other pets healthy.
“Plan ahead. If you know that you’re planning to board your dog in the coming months, it would be best to start now do the vaccine, get your booster in two to three weeks, and then hopefully your dog will be protected when it goes to the kennel,” said Hayes.
This comes as Florida health officials confirmed a dozen cases of H3N2 canine influenza in Florida, saying it spread among animals at two dog shows.