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It's not just flu season for us, but also our dogs

It's not just flu season for us, but also our dogs
It's not just flu season for us, but also our dogs 02:58

MIAMI - It's not just cold and flu season for us, canine flu and other viruses that make dogs sick are also spreading.

Like people, pets are also dealing with plenty of viruses that can make them sick right now. There's canine influenza and pneumovirus.

The symptoms of these viruses show up similarly to the way they present in humans: coughing, runny nose, fatigue and even fever.

Dr. Carlos Canino, with Doral Veterinary Care, says pathogens can be transported from canine to canine at places where there are tons of animals in enclosed in the same space. For example, dog parks, boarding facilities, the groomers, etc.

Ed Rivera, has a 15-year-old cat named Puffer who has fallen ill.

"He has like the flu. He's sneezing. He has like puss literally coming out his eyes," he said. Rivera has made the decision to put Puffer down, believing the sickness is too far gone to get him additional medical care. 

"Most dogs will experience 10 to 14 days of runny nose and coughing, but there is a significant subset of those dogs that will progress to pneumonia that can be very life-threatening," said Dr. Cynda Crawford with the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Some animal shelters have had to suspend dog adoptions because of flu or pneumovirus cases, like the Pinellas County Animal Services.

"Once it starts spreading, it just it just goes," said Pinellas Animal Services Director Doug Brightwell.

Dr. Crawford said the message is the same for sick pets as it is for sick people.

"Limit their activity so that they can get some rest. Be sure to confine them at home because whatever's causing their cold is likely contagious to other dogs," she said.

It's canine flu season, protect your pet 01:44

While there is no vaccine for pneumovirus, there is a canine influenza vaccine. So if you're planning to board your dogs over Christmas, now is the time to get the vaccination.

According to Florida Aid to Animals, an influenza vaccine will only cost between $25 and $35.

"When you give a vaccine, what it does it helps you prevent from getting disease or actually minimize the clinical signs. I've had dogs that we have vaccinated with Bordetella, they still come down with kennel cough, but it's very mild," said Dr. Canino.

 He, suggests bringing your pet to the vet if you notice your dog stops eating, becomes lethargic, or acquires a fever.

"The timing is so important because their antibody production is what needs to build up," said veterinarian Dr. Jimmy Davis.

Dog owners should always be on the lookout for warning signs. If your dog stops eating or has difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian. Getting your dog vaccinated for canine influenza may not prevent infection altogether, but it may reduce the severity and duration of the illness, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Canino also warns as we head into the holiday season, be mindful of the food and toys that might be lying around because those also pose threats to your furry friends too. 

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