BROOKLYN — This past flu season was record-breaking for New Yorkers with more than 125,000 confirmed cases of the virus. Now, it appears it's gone to the dogs.
So far, there have been more than a dozen confirmed cases of dog flu in Brooklyn and more are likely on the way.
"My vet actually sent an e-mail out just letting us know about a week ago," dog owner Emily Bisch said.
The virus can't be transferred between people an their four-legged friends, but it's easily spread from canine to canine, which is why Bisch said she's thinking about getting her pup Dallas vaccinated.
"I am considering it," she said at the Herbert Von King dog park in Bed-Stuy. "They had given her a round before I adopted her. It's something that's on my mind, but she's not due for it yet."
Veterinarian Stephanie Liff said her practice is using a vaccine made by Merck that covers two different strains of influenza: H3N2 and H3N8.
"If the dogs acting fine and they're worried about prevention, there is a vaccine," Liff said.
Liff has seen five or six cases of dogs coming into Pure Paws Veterinary Care in Clinton Hill with flu-like symptoms, which include excessive coughing and fever. So far she's had one confirmed case with four tests pending, but she's not taking any chances with her own pup.
"My own dog goes to a daycare that requires it so she's vaccinated, but I chose not to bring her to Brooklyn this week just to minimize her exposure," she said.
Veterinarians said one of the easiest ways to spread the dog flu is simply by having your dog play with other dogs, but dog owners in Bed-Stuy didn't seem too concerned.
"My wife and I talked about maybe avoiding the dog park and things like that, but we decided to risk it," dog walker and owner Brian Lewis said.
"I think if something does occur then it will be more on my mind, but I'm not too worried about it here," said Bisch.
Old and young dogs are most vulnerable to the flu. However, if your dog does contract the virus, Liff said it's important to keep them away from other canines until they're completely cured.
"They can be contagious for 21 days even when they're feeling better, so it's very important to keep them away from other dogs after they've been diagnosed," she said.
That way the rest of their furry friends can avoid the same rough outcome.