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Taking Action: Veterinarian warns of rapid spread of dog flu

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- You may never think about your dog catching the flu, but the virus is real. Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, the Carolina's and other states are all experiencing the H3N2 canine flu.

As of middle of June it hasn't hit Alabama.

"I think for people who have pets, right now they may want to rethink those long trips...say going to the beach with their in-laws in Georgia, Florida, or North Carolina because the hot beds right now are those three states," said Mark Russell with Whitesburg Animal Hospital.

Russell says outbreaks of canine flu in recent years may have prompted dog owners to vaccinate their pets, but a new year means a new strain.

"When you're out-and-out socializing, going for a walk in the neighborhood, that sort of thing, it would be so easy to pick it up from another dog," Russell said.

Although, Russell says it can be difficult to know if your dog has the flu.

"It's so similar to just your common bordetella, kennel cough," Russell said.

There is a difference in how long it lasts. Russell says it can be weeks and sometimes fatal.

The virus can last for weeks and potentially turn into pneumonia.

"Early on they may be running a fever, which is unusual for just a regular upper respiratory infection," said Russell.

It can also include a runny nose. The virus is highly contagious, but also easily killed with disinfectant.

As a preventative measure, Whitesburg Animal Hospital will administer the vaccine for your dog. Russell says dog parks are also not a good idea while this virus is going around.