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New strain of dog flu sickening pups across the country

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As many of us trudge our way through flu season, we have to watch out for our canine companions, too.  A new strain of dog flu is making pups sick in the United States.  In rare cases it even causes hospitalization or death.

"The big problem is we don't know where it's going to hit next, we don't know when it's going to hit," said Dr. Christi Belew.

Dr. Belew, from Union Hill Animal Hospital, says last spring there was concern about the H3-N2 virus when there was an outbreak in Chicago, and more recently, there was another outbreak in the Seattle area.  The dog flu isn't seasonal, and outbreaks typically happen when a lot of dogs are together, like in a kennel around the holidays.

To protect your dog, Dr. Belew says there are potential preventative measures.

"Their bordetella, their kennel cough vaccine is current, they're current on the available influenza vaccine, and they're an otherwise healthy animal, they should have pretty good protection from it," said Dr. Belew.

If you think your dog is less active or less interested in eating, that's a possible early clue it has the flu.

"As it advances, you can actually see signs of a cold.  So they can have a cough, a runny nose," said Dr. Belew.

But there's no need to panic- Dr. Belew says most dogs get through the flu just fine.

A risk factor of the dog flu is that it can turn into pneumonia, which can cause the dog to be hospitalized.  The good news, the dog flu can only be passed from dog to dog.  Humans and other animals can't get it.