NEW YORK (PIX11) – If you’re a dog owner, you know that your pet is your world and that you would do anything to keep them healthy, but with a recent outbreak of canine influenza, or dog flu, many aren’t aware of the health risks.

“I didn’t know that dogs could get the flu, so this is an important thing to learn about,” said dog owner Suzette Meade.

Cases are up nationwide with recent outbreaks in the tri-state area, according to Valerie Ordonez, a veterinarian at BondVet, which has locations throughout New York City.

“Canine influenza is an upper respiratory infection primarily caused by the influenza virus Type A,” Ordonez said. “It’s pretty contagious around other animals, not so much humans, but they can be passed on from dog to dog.”

Symptoms include fever, coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and in some severe cases, dogs can present pneumonia. It spreads through exposure from other dogs who have the flu. The best prevention would be to separate dogs in high-traffic areas.

“Grooming facilities, boarding facilities, dog parks, just the aerosolized contents of breathing amongst other dogs can spread the disease,” Ordonez added.

It may not always be realistic to stay away from other dogs while living in New York City, so factoring in your pet’s lifestyle and speaking with your vet to determine if the dog flu vaccine is the best form of treatment may be the next step.

“My dog, she’s always interacting with other dogs, whether it’s in the park, on a walk, so really just being careful that she is up to date on all of her shots and vaccines,” Meade added.

Because most vaccines aren’t 100% effective, there’s still a chance of contracting the virus.

“However, it does exponentially minimize the symptoms in your pet, and that’s the best care we can have,” Ordonez said.

Because there is no particular season for canine influenza, you can schedule an appointment for the shot at your dog’s vet at any time of the year if they have the vaccine in stock.