CINCINNATI -- Over-the-Rhine's Washington Park plays host every day to dogs of all sizes and types, from Ryan Marlow's Labrador-beagle-Aussie-Staffordshire mix to Robby Cryder's Great Danes.
"We love them," Cryder said. "They're part of the family. They're basically our kids right now."
Just like human family members, dogs face a risk of contracting influenza during the fall and winter seasons.
They can't catch it from humans, veterinarian Dan Meakin said, but the virus can be spread through both direct and indirect contact with other dogs. If a human handles a toy covered in a sick dog's saliva and then pets their own, it can be transmitted that way.
"There's probably a lot more canine influenza out there than we realize," Meakin said.
Fortunately, dogs can also be vaccinated, just like humans, but Meakin said veterinarians don't recommend the vaccine for every pooch. The dogs most at risk of contracting the flu are those who spend a great deal of time around other, unfamiliar dogs, such as those that are frequently boarded or kenneled or those that spend a lot of time at dog shows.
The virus can also affect very young puppies and senior dogs. Meakin said the good news is few dogs who contract canine influenza develop pneumonia. Most, just like humans, can recover safely with medicine, hydration and rest.
If your dog begins sneezing or coughing, do not hesitate to quarantine them from your other pets and take them to your veterinarian if you have concern.