Highly contagious dog flu spreading across Ohio

ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - A highly contagious and potentially deadly strain of the dog flu is working its way across Ohio.

Doggy day cares and kennels in Toledo have had to close because the virus is spreading so rapidly.

Dr. Alex O'Roark owns the Elyria Animal Hospital.

He's watched the dog flu explode across the country over the last few years.

He said dogs can catch the virus just about anywhere.

"Dog shows, kennels, dog parks, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. It can be casual exposure in your yard or one-on-one type of a deal," he said.

Dog flu symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • trouble breathing.

"The problem is they can go down hill very rapidly and secondary problems kick in," said O'Roark.

Puppies and older dogs don't recover as quickly.

In severe cases, dogs can develop pneumonia and they don't always make it.

"There have been a few deaths in Toledo at the emergency clinic and the special clinic, so it can be that serious," said O'Roark.

Even for healthy dogs, it can take up to a month to fully recover from the flu.

If you're worried about your dog, don't hesitate to visit the vet.

"A lot of times people will call and they'll want to wait a bit to see if it'll blow over, it's not severe. In the past that probably wasn't a bad idea, but now I think you should be getting it more quickly for something that looks like the flu," said O'Roark.

In the Cleveland-area, there have been two suspected cases of the dog flu, but both tests came back negative.

Like the flu shot for humans, the dog flu vaccine is done annually.

The first year, your dog gets the initial vaccine plus a booster, then every year after that they just need the flu shot.

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