Does your dog need a flu shot?

by Brandon Richards

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - You might not be the only member of your family to need a flu shot this season. Your dog may need one too.

The H3N8 virus, or the dog flu, is a relatively new disease that has infected dogs in 30 states since 2005. The states with the most infections are New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Florida.

And though there have been little to no cases reported in Louisiana this year, however local veterinarians agree that it is only a matter of time before the dog flu start showing up.

"Before, we honestly thought it was a form kennel cough, which is a very common disease," Lake Charles veterinarian Dr. Sherwood Gill said. "It's not a very lethal disease. It's more of a long-lasting disease where these dogs are coughing for ten to fifteen to twenty days."

The bad news is almost every dog that comes into contact with an infected dog will get the disease. Infected dogs can spread the disease for up to ten days, after symptoms first appear.

But the good news is: it's treatable and humans cannot catch it.

There's now a new vaccine on the market that works just like a regular flu shot works in humans.

According to local vets, the vaccine will cost around $25.

Around 20 percent of infected dogs will not show any signs or symptoms, that's why veterinarians say it's important for dog owners to have their dogs vaccinated.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)