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New strain of highly contagious dog flu

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ROUND ROCK (KXAN) — There's a new strain of dog flu that veterinarians say dog owners need to have on their radar. It's highly contagious and veterinarians say H3N2 made its way to Texas from the Midwest.

"This current outbreak came from Chicago, so it could have been a dog that was in a shelter in the Chicago area and came and maybe boarded and maybe started infecting dogs at that boarding facility," explained Dr. Amber Breclaw, a veterinarian at Forest Creek Animal Hospital in Round Rock.

She said the dog influenza presents similar symptoms as kennel cough. Dogs will have a heavy cough, lethargy, lack of appetite and a fever.

Breclaw said they've had several dogs come in with the flu symptoms and have sent four tests to confirm the diagnoses. They first learned about the outbreak a week ago and have received a shipment of the vaccine.

"Because it's so contagious, we're taking extra precautions with coughing dog. Sometimes we'll go outside and get gowned up to make sure we're not spreading to other patients or the hospital," said Breclaw.

With Christmas a week away, she's worried the H3N2 strain will spread.

"It is a very big concern in this holiday season just with all the dogs boarding and everyone in close proximity. We are a little scared about it spreading a lot more before it gets better," said Breclaw.

Veterinarians say it takes several weeks for the vaccine to work. Even though this type of flu is highly contagious, vets say the mortality rate is low.