Dog influenza could be on the rise and it’s highly contagious, according to American Veterinary Medical Association

HOUSTON— There's been a lot of talk about this season's nasty flu epidemic, but now, there's rising concern for dog flu.

Canine influenza is apparently highly contagious infecting about 80 percent of all dogs who come in contact with it, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dr. Amy Crum, a veterinarian at Houston SPCA, said canine influenza affects mostly just other dogs, so humans won't have to worry about getting sick if treating a sick pup or passing the human flu along to their furry friend.

"As people move into and out of the area more, they're bringing the virus with them and their pets. There are a few cases where it has transmitted from dog to cat, those are unusual, usually in shelter type environments," Crum said.

Crum adds that canine influenza is a fairly new and recent disease.

"It mutated actually out from a equine flu virus around 2004, and then more recently, there's another strain that came from birds and that caused the big outbreak out in Chicago in 2015," Crum said.

The virus is contracted and spread almost exactly like the human flu.

"Just like in humans, the animals who are young or who are very old, and their immune system maybe isn't working as well as a healthy, middle-aged dog-- they would be more at risk for contracting," Crum said.

Luckily in Harris County, Crum said the number of reported dog flu cases so far is very low, just a few dozen instances in 2017.

Just like in humans, there's a vaccine for it.

Veterinarians said the vaccine won't completely prevent the virus, but can lessen the severity if contracted.

If your dogs start showing any symptoms of sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge or runny nose, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian immediately.