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Canine influenza: Why people aren't the only ones who need the flu shot

(Photo: NBC News Channel)

SARASOTA - If you got your flu shot and think you're all set for flu season, think again. Canine influenza can strike your pup at anytime this flu season, but they can lower their chances of getting sick with the flu shot.

Kirsten Burton is a veterinarian at the Animal Clinic of the Humane Society of Sarasota County. She says they've been giving dog flu shots for almost two years, since there was an outbreak among show dogs.

Burton says the shot serves the same purpose as it does for us, to create an immune response. Pay close attention because if your dog does get the flu, it can closely resemble kennel cough. Burton says if the symptoms persist, it could be the flu.

Symptoms to look for are coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and changes in behavior. For example, if your dog isn't eating or isn't acting his or herself, it may be time to call the vet. If your pooch does get the flu, don't worry, because there are ways to treat it. It is a virus, but Burton says there are anti-viral medicines that can help, but sometimes dogs do require hospitalization and IV fluids.

The flu shot is not required, but many doggy day cares do require your dog to have it.

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