CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - Several confirmed dog flu cases in the Carolinas are causing much concern among pet owners.
To date, there have been two deaths in North Carolina related to the dog flu in Raleigh and Morehead City. There was also a case of the virus recently reported in nearby Davidson.
"Pet owners are really becoming concerned," Harbor Point Animal Hospital Medical Director Dr. Jamie Laity said. "And they're asking about it and want to know more about it."
The canine dog flu is on the rise.
"Just like with our flu, it's very easily spread," Dr. Laity explained. "So coughing, sneezing, contact...you can bring it home to your pet."
Area pet owners are hoping to keep their own pups out of harm’s way.
"It would be scary," Pet owner Mary Parrott said. "I would take her directly to the dog emergency room."
"I'd feel really bad if they got sick," Mae McIntyre said. "They're like my children."
Dogs most at risk include those regularly around other furry friends, whether that's at the dog park, a boarding facility or even the groomer.
"Dogs can contract this within 24-48 hours within being exposed," Dr. Laity said. "And can shed for up to 30 days, so even if your dog has been treated, it can be shedding the virus and contagious to dogs for quite a period of time."
Much like when humans get the flu, symptoms include coughing, sneezing and a high fever.
"It's important for us to make sure we are protecting our clients and patients," Dr. Laity said. "And treating anything we might consider at risk."
Harbor Point Animal Hospital continues to see an uptick in inquiries about the dog flu vaccine, which can be administered to help prevent the virus.
"They have to have a vaccine, and two weeks later a second vaccine," Dr. Laity said. "So just know it may take a little time before your dog is fully protected against canine influenza."
Of the 80 percent of dogs that will contract the virus, the mortality rate is less than ten percent.
"So it's not something we want to cause a lot of panic for," Dr. Laity said. "But it's an important conversation to have, it's important to know it's out there and that there are symptoms to watch for."