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Canine virus concerns: Is boarding your dog during holiday travels dangerous?

Is boarding your dog during holiday travels dangerous?
Is boarding your dog during holiday travels dangerous? 02:50

DAVIS — The mysterious dog virus detected in 12 states, including California, has some pet owners rethinking their holiday travel plans over fears of infections.

Dr. Karl Jandrey with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is closely monitoring the outbreaks in other parts of the United States.

"We still don't have any patients reported in the Northern California area, so I think our viewer region is probably OK. Right now, of course, that means diligence. Don't rest on your laurels," Jandrey said.

The virus that resembles kennel cough is not responding to traditional treatment. Experts also don't know where it originated and know very little about how it spreads. The cases, which were first reported on the East Coast, have been sporadic.

"We know that this is a dog-only disease, not passable between anything other than dog to dog," Jandrey said.

Some local boarding facilities are seeing fewer reservations during a typically busy holiday travel season with more pets opting to take their dogs with them this year.

One dog owner we spoke with says they were cautious at first, even.

"When we first heard of the virus, we were really worried and we stayed away from dog parks and other dogs," Dana said. "I am less worried about it now. We're just being cautious, making sure it's not overcrowded at the dog park."

Caution is what Dr. Jandrey says is the most important thing to remember at this stage in the game. With so few cases reported over extended months and very few deaths, preventative measures are the best way to keep your pet safe.

If you are boarding your animal this Christmas season, there are key questions you should ask before you drop your dog off at a facility.

"Have you seen any of these cases? What are you doing to mitigate any possibility? What happens if my dog has any symptoms while they're boarding?" Jandrey said.

He added that you should also ask if they have a veterinary team on call and ask if the facility will take the animal to the vet if you will still be traveling and unable to do it yourself.

"These are the kind of questions I think animal owners should be armed with whenever they're traveling and now that we have this concern about the potential for this airway disease to come into our area," Jandrey said.

Another important tip to keep your pet safe is to stay up to date on vaccinations and make sure you are prioritizing nutrition and exercise.

"Making sure that we keep health maintenance as a priority for those pets that we have, make sure that they are as healthy as can be," Jandrey said.

Monitor your pet's behavior, and if you see any changes, you should immediately take them to the vet. Dr. Jandrey said pet owners should not panic.

"I'm still saying we should not sound the alarm. This is not a pandemic for dogs. This is not super widespread," Jandrey said.

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