Dog flu a serious concern in Ohio

AVON LAKE, OH (WOIO) - The flu season is not letting up in Northeast Ohio.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health says there were six more flu deaths in the past week, bringing the total up to 11 this season.

And this year, you may also want to consider getting a flu vaccine for your furry family members.

Animal experts say there have been intense flare ups of the dog flu in a several states including here in Ohio.

The dog flu spreads just like human flu from coughing and sneezing or from dogs nuzzling each other and playing with contaminated toys.

Some dogs are more at risk to catch it than others.

You hear the advice to get your flu shot every year.

But did you know you should get one for your dog too?

The dog flu has hit Ohio, making it even more urgent to protect man's best friend.

"It's something we've seen in the area, Columbus, Toledo, so it has been in the state this year but we haven't actually seen it," said Dr. Michael Haddad is an associate veterinarian at Avon Lake Animal Clinic.

He says the dog flu may not be in Northeast Ohio yet, but it can still spread here.

"Any dog who comes from any place to our area and is interacting with other dogs at boarding facilities, kennels, daycares, dog parks, there definitely could be transmission," Dr. Haddad said.

If your dog has visited any of these places, he's considered high risk for the flu.

And if he gets the flu it can knock out his immune system.

There are actually two strains of the dog flu circulating.

Signs to look for include fever, sneezing, nasal discharge and lack of appetite.

The virus is highly contagious, but vets say most cases aren't severe.

Still, if your dog gets sick you'll want to take action fast.

Because untreated, the dog flu can lead to pneumonia and be deadly.

So what can you do to protect your furry friend?

"It really just comes back to human prevention of disease. Washing your hands, when you're interacting at places with known pets. And really just good sanitary behavior should keep you and your pet safe," Dr. Haddad said.

The human flu and dog flu are different.

The dog flu can't be passed on to humans. But dogs can pass it on to cats.

Dog flu is not seasonal and can spread at any time during the year.

Copyright 2018 WOIO. All rights reserved.