PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As more and more pets across our area are getting sick, veterinarians say the region is seeing a rare outbreak of canine influenza.
Stephen Cole, a veterinarian with the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, told Action News it's not uncommon for dogs to get upper respiratory infections just like people. But he said in the last month or so, there's been an uptick in canine influenza, which has many dog owners concerned.
"Honestly, that makes me want to leave the dog park. I'm a little concerned about that," said Mary Dandrea, of Philadelphia.
At the Schuylkill River Dog Run, there were a lot of dogs playing with each other on Wednesday afternoon, which could be a way for them to spread the flu.
"Canine influenza is considerably more infectious and transmissible than the typical bacteria viruses that we see, causing upper respiratory and tract infections in dogs. That's why it's more concerning," said Cole.
Cole said a good way to keep your dog from getting the flu is to keep them away from other dogs.
"That spreads from dog to dog by coughing, barking, sneezing and can be shared on different surfaces and objects as well," said Cole.
"We also get concerned when they're like sharing water bowls," said Stacey Thomas, of Philadelphia.
Cole says there is a vaccine available, but it's been on backorder in some locations. He's also heard reports that more is coming but recommends you speak with your vet to make sure it's available.
He said it is important to remember, just like any vaccine, it's not 100% effective.
"There are vaccines available, but it takes some time just like any vaccine to be efficacious and there also might be some limited availability right now because of how much there's been going around the country," said Cole.
Cole said most cases will be mild. So, just like with humans, make sure your dog gets plenty of rest.