Thousands of dogs have been severely sickened by the canine flu nationwide, and although it's not usually fatal, some dogs have died, including six in the Chicago area.
The H3N2 strain of canine influenza has swept across more than half of the United States, including recent outbreaks at dog shows in Florida and Georgia.
The virus is extremely contagious, therefore prompting some animal health experts to advise owners to get their dogs vaccinated.
"Any pet owners that are bringing their dogs to dog parks, grooming facilities, boarding facilities, dog shows, if they have a very active lifestyle where they take their dog out a lot, then they should," Melissa Lohsen, a vet tech at a clinic in DeLand, Florida told CBS News (link).
Dog flu does not typically infect humans, but the symptoms in dogs mimic what humans experience when we have the flu. These include coughing, runny nose, fever. Like the flu in humans, sometimes Canine Flu can lead to life-threatening pneumonia in dogs.
Scientists at the University of Florida urged dog owners to consider getting their pets vaccinated.
"The more dogs in a community that we can vaccinate... the better chance we have of keeping this virus out of the community," Cynda Crawford of the university said.
However, even though thousands of dogs have contracted Canine Flu, compared to the overall dog population of 80 million, some, such as Dana Scott of Dogs Naturally Magazine say vaccinating against it is not necessary.
"I think when it comes to vaccination what you really need to think about is where are these reports coming from," Scott said. "It's basically the vaccine manufacturer keeping track of these diseases, and we are relying on vaccine manufacturers to convey that information to us."
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends dog owners consult with their vets to determine what's best for their pet.