Highly contagious dog flu spreads to Georgia after dog show

Officials are warning about the dog flu after five confirmed cases in Georgia.

Dogs at a dog show in Houston County last month spread a new strain of Canine Influenza Virus, Atlanta veterinarian Dr. Robert Cobb said in a news release.

More dogs involved with shows, exhibitions and assemblies are being diagnosed with canine respiratory disease, he said.

While the flu doesn’t affect humans, infection is highly contagious among dogs.

Cobb said common symptoms of infection can include coughing, sneezing, lack of appetite and fever.

Local veterinarians told Channel 2 Action News the dog flu is so contagious that a dog can sneeze 20 feet away from another dog and pass it.

People can also spread the disease from dog to dog through petting the animals.

"It can easily be transferred from one city to another, simply because of a plane flight or a car ride," Dr. Cary Mackey told the news station.

Mackey's clinic in Cobb County is stocking up on vials of the dog flu vaccine, which may soon be administered all around the metro.

One way pet owners can protect their furry family members is by vaccinating their dogs.

The vaccine may not offer full protection, Mackey said, but if a dog is infected, having the vaccine should lessen symptoms.

Officials advise dog owners to be on the lookout for dogs that are sneezing or coughing. They said the flu can make dogs sick, but it is not usually fatal.

"Rarely fatal, but unfortunately there have been a few patients that have passed away due to the flu and side effects of being infected," Mackey said.