Veterinarians in Chicago are calling an outbreak of "dog flu" a near epidemic, even warning pet owners to avoid dog parks and animal boarding facilities.
At least five canines have died and more than 1,000 are infected with the illness.
"We first started recognizing canine influenza in 2004. Since then it's been a relatively quite infectious agent. Now it seems to be gaining some momentum," explained veterinarian Dr. Brian Forsgren
Forsgren with Gateway Animal Clinic in Cleveland tells 19 Action news that the dog flu is nothing to mess around with.
Dogs usually transfer the virus by licking each other. Forsgren says he has not seen any cases of canine flu in our area yet, but there are things pet owners still need to do to protect their pooches from getting sick.
"If you're going to travel with your dog be very careful. I recommend vaccinations if you're going anywhere near the Chicago/Wisconsin area," said Forsgren.
If your dog has a runny nose, persistent cough or fever, go see you vet right away. The symptoms are similar to a human case of the flu.
"There's an easy condition where you just have sniffles and kind of sick with a repertory disease. Then there's the complicated one where you get a full blown pneumonia," said Forsgren.
Flu vaccines for dogs can cost about $100. Hospital costs to treat a dog that has to be isolated because of the flu can run thousands of dollars.