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Vaccine may help owners combat dog flu

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As those living in Indiana try to stay healthy in the wake of the worst flu seasons in a decade, it appears other humans aren’t the only ones people should be keeping an eye on.

Dogs, like people, are able to get the flu, albeit a different strain of the virus. According to a local animal care provider, there are symptoms owners might notice – and even a vaccine available for dogs, too.

“We do start seeing pets this time of year,” Tom Doc, a manager at Noah’s Animal Hospital, told 24-Hour News 8. “They will have a runny nose or discharge around the eye.”

Doc said at least all but ten states have reported incidents of the canine flu this year in the U.S., and recommends any owners with sick dogs to take them to the vet.

“If you hear a harsh cough, that is a sign there is an upper respiratory issue,” Doc said. “That’s when it’s time to go to see your vet to hear what treatment options [they] may have.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most dogs will experience a mild form of the flu at some point in their lifetime. Only 10 to 20 percent of dogs that do get sick, however, ever have visible symptoms.

Places like Noah’s Animal Hospital do offer a canine flu vaccine as one of the options. The vaccine, usually marked around $25, requires a booster shot three weeks later and lasts for up to a year.

The idea of vaccinating children is already a hot-button issue on the national stage, in the midst of a nationwide measles outbreak.

For vets and owners alike, the idea of vaccinating other, non-human members of the family appears just as controversial.

“I think flu shots are the next step in health care for them and it will have to be [the owner’s] personal choice,” says Leslie Kelly.

Kelly, who owns four dogs of her own, says the idea is interesting, but is hesitant to utilize the technology just yet.

“I think in some cases it could be good but I wouldn’t do it with our animals.”

According to Thomas Doc, the vaccine is believed most effective for animals being boarded or encountering other canines, such as at a dog park or another public setting.

For more information about the canine flu vaccine, you can visit the CDC website.