With the cooler weather we turn our concerns to the up and coming flu season. Staying well throughout the winter can be challenging. When fall hits we all start thinking about getting our flu shot to avoid catching the flu. People are not the only ones at risk for getting the flu. As it is for people, the flu is extremely contagious among dogs as well. For dogs the flu symptoms are similar to our own and also similar to kennel cough. The flu lasts anywhere from two to five weeks. There are typically no signs in the beginning stages (meaning the first few days of the virus). However, it is common for dogs to run a high fever which can be detected by the feel of the ears. The most common sign is coughing that can last up to 21 days. Nasal discharge may be apparent. If your pet comes down with the flu, hospitalization may be required. When caught early, given proper medical attention there is a lower chance of fatality. Dogs that are kept within their own homes are at little risk where as pets that are boarded in confined places such as kennels, shelters, pet stores, dog parks and dog schools are more likely to come down with the virus. The canine flu can be transferred from dog to dog as well as from human to dog, if good hygiene is not practiced. This is why it is so important to immunize your pet. However, there are several veterinarians against the vaccine saying that the vaccine in and of itself is what's keeping the virus alive. They suggest that squirting dead flu cells up a dogs nose is no guarantee the vaccine will work. The death toll from the flu is so insignificant that the need for vaccination is most dangerous to breeds with a pushed in nose such as Pekingese, pugs and Shi-Tzu. The Veterinarian Association is not requiring boarded pets to get vaccinated against the flu, but they are keeping a close eye on the virus. If you are considering boarding your pet you may want to call the kennel ahead and see if they have had signs of any particular diseases coming through. According to Dr. Cynda Crawford the number of dogs that have died from the disease is small considering there are 70 million dogs within the nation alone. Since the vaccine is so new there are not allot of clinics carrying it at this time. You will need to check around your area to see where it is available. If your dog has a cough that lasts more than a few days, a yellow nasal discharge or low grade fever see your veterinarian as soon as possible.