By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami)  – A highly infectious disease is spreading among dogs in South Florida.

“It’s like the canine flu, a canine cold,” said Dr. Maria Serrano.

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It’s officially called canine infectious respiratory disease complex, but it’s often referred to as canine cough or kennel cough.

“The big thing that we will see is kind of a cough, a dry, productive cough, where it sounds as though they’re trying to hack something up,” said Dr. Christine Klippen, a veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals.

Veterinarians say symptoms include coughing, sneezing, discharge from the nose and eyes, and difficulty breathing.

The virus spreads when dogs are in close contact through droplets in the air.

“If your pet has been exhibiting signs, it’s really important to try to stay away from dog parks and groomers and playdates to prevent the transmission to other animals,” said Dr. Klippen.

Many dog owners are just learning about the disease and don’t seem concerned.

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“If it happens, they can treat the dog, so we’ll be fine,” said one dog owner.

At this point, the outbreak appears to be confined to South Florida, but vets say that could change quickly.

“People are traveling a lot more with their pets, and so that kind of is why it’s very important to stay up on the vaccines and other things to kind of protect when going into a new area,” said Dr. Klippen.

Mild cases of kennel cough usually call for a week or two of rest.

If symptoms worsen, dogs may need medical attention and may be prescribed antibiotics.

Symptoms usually start to appear about five days after exposure.

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The disease does not affect humans. Team