The simple fix for protecting your dog from the highly contagious dog flu

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — We're reminded often about the importance of getting our flu shots. However, you may not know your dog needs one too!

Yes, dogs can get the flu or at least, the dog flu.

Hudson and his best buddy Hank have had their flu shots. Their dog mom, Jordan Washburn, has to travel for work, so she boards them frequently. Jordan obviously wants to keep her two pups happy and healthy, so once she found out about the dangers of dog flu, she wanted to get them vaccinated right away. Hudson and Hank had their flu vaccines given to them during a routine checkup at Cottage Animal Clinic in Carmel.

When Washburn's dogs are boarded, they share space with lots of other dogs, and that often comes with lots of germs. That's why more and more local pet retreats like DogDayz Playhouse & Retreat in Noblesville, PetSuites Indianapolis locations and Barkefellers locations across Indianapolis are requiring your dogs be vaccinated for the flu before they’re boarded.

“Our priority at PetSuites has always been to ensure that our pets are happy, healthy and safe at all times, "Amanda Thomas, senior general manager at PetSuites Indianapolis said. "Due to recent outbreaks in the country and the advice of our veterinary advisory board, we felt it best to act in a preventive and safe manner, which is why we started requiring the canine influenza vaccination series. We love our pet guests as if they were our own and take their care and wellbeing very seriously!”

And Washburn agrees.

"You don't get them back sick," she said.

Yes, like in humans, the dog flu is highly contagious. It's transmitted between dogs, but it can develop into a serious illness. The Indiana Board of Animal Health said dog flu season is in the spring, so now's a good time to get them vaccinated.

"If you're planning on traveling without your dogs and putting them somewhere with other dogs, or even taking them to the dog park, they definitely need it, for sure," Washburn said.

Dogs need two shots. They need an initial shot, plus a booster a few weeks later. After a few weeks pass, veterinarians say your dog is 99 percent protected. The dog flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. That covers your dog for both strains of dog flu — H3N8 and H3N2. There's even a canine influenza "outbreak" map to see where cases of dog flu have been reported.

"If they're in a facility where there's a bunch of balls, and they're drinking out of the same water bowls," Veterinary Technician with Cottage Animal Clinic Meredith Engerski said.

That's when the dog flu can spread rapidly. She also said that if your dog just hangs out at the house and isn't around other dogs, the vaccine may not be needed. However, Washburn and Engerski said that Hudson and Hank didn't seem to mind the shots.

After we humans get a flu shot, our arms might be a bit sore, and we could get tired. Veterinarians say dogs could go through something similar if they get the dog flu vaccine. Now, in turn, if your dog hasn't been vaccinated from dog flu and you notice they're not eating, they're always tired and have nasal discharge, they may have the flu. In that case, get them to your vet right away. While you're there at your vet ask them about the flu shot and how much it costs. At Cottage Animal Care, the dog flu vaccine is around $30, and the booster, which is given a few weeks later, will cost the same.

Be sure to check with your veterinarian to ask them more about the prevalence of dog flu, what the vaccination entails, and how much it costs.