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Highly contagious dog flu spreading across country | News

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Highly contagious dog flu spreading across country

LAS VEGAS -- Flu season doesn't only affect people, it also affects man's best friend.  A vaccine resistant flu-like virus -- capable of killing dogs -- is spreading out of the Midwest and veterinarians are bracing for it in southern Nevada. 

Canine influenza is a lot like the human flu. It spreads easily and can damage your dog's health quickly. It has sickened thousands of dogs in the Midwest.

Ella May enjoys a rainy day at Sunset dog park. It's a chance for her to mingle with other dogs.

"I can't deny her that," said Mary Meduna, Ella May's owner. "She is high energy and needs to be out and about."

A few weeks ago, Meduna noticed Ella May was not her normal energetic self and she was sniffling.

"I took her to the vet after a couple days of doing that because she wasn't getting any better," Meduna said. "I thought I'd better have her checked out."

It turns out Ella May was suffering with allergies.

Veterinarians say dog owners should be look for canine flu symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, tiredness and a lack of appetite. Sometimes dogs will even have a fever of 104 degrees or more.

The dog flu virus can kill.

"I think the scariest part for owners is you have a normal dog and a couple days later you have a very lethargic dog, possibly a high fever and a cough possibly," said Dr. Susie Costa, Spencer Springs Animal Hospital.

Canine influenza can spread among dogs quickly, especially at dog parks or in close quarters like a kennel. It travels through the air in a cough or sneeze or through slobber on shared toys.

"Prevent exposure, that's the biggest thing," Dr. Costa said.

There have not been any confirmed cases in the Southwest but the virus has spread since it was detected in the Midwest.

Ella May's owner says she's not ready to take away doggy play dates from her pup, but she will be watching carefully for any symptoms.

"I'd be lost without her, so I don't even want to think about that."

There is a vaccine for the canine influenza, but that shot was made for the last flu virus a couple years ago. Veterinarians say this strain is new and can't be vaccinated against.

They do say it is important to get treatment quickly if any symptoms are noticed.