New strain of dog flu sickening pups across the country

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New Strain of Dog Flu Puts Owners on High Alert

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As many of us trudge our way through flu season, we have to watch out for our canine companions, too. A new strain of dog flu is making pups sick in the United States. In rare cases it even causes hospitalization or death.

"The big problem is we don't know where it's going to hit next, we don't know when it's going to hit," said Dr. Christi Belew.

SEE ALSO: CJ the German shorthaired pointer wins Best in Show at 2016 Westminster Dog Show

Dr. Belew, from Union Hill Animal Hospital, says last spring there was concern about the H3-N2 virus when there was an outbreak in Chicago, and more recently, there was another outbreak in the Seattle area. The dog flu isn't seasonal, and outbreaks typically happen when a lot of dogs are together, like in a kennel around the holidays.

To protect your dog, Dr. Belew says there are potential preventative measures.

"Their bordetella, their kennel cough vaccine is current, they're current on the available influenza vaccine, and they're an otherwise healthy animal, they should have pretty good protection from it," said Dr. Belew.

If you think your dog is less active or less interested in eating, that's a possible early clue it has the flu.

"As it advances, you can actually see signs of a cold. So they can have a cough, a runny nose," said Dr. Belew.

But there's no need to panic- Dr. Belew says most dogs get through the flu just fine.

A risk factor of the dog flu is that it can turn into pneumonia, which can cause the dog to be hospitalized. The good news, the dog flu can only be passed from dog to dog. Humans and other animals can't get it.

Related: Also see photos from the Westminster Dog Show:

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Westminster Dog Show 2016
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New strain of dog flu sickening pups across the country
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 16: Handler Valerie Nunes-Atkinson and her dog CJ, a German Shorthaired Pointer, win Best in Show competition at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 16: C.J., a German Short Haired Pointer, wins Best in Show on the second day of the 140th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden on February 16, 2016 in New York City. The 'Best in Show' award is the top honor in the annual competition. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Valerie Nunes-Atkinson and CJ, a German shorthaired pointer, pose for photographers after CJ won best in show at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
CJ, a German shorthaired pointer, is shown in the ring by his handler Valerie Nunes-Atkinson is shown in the ring during the Best in Show competition at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. CJ won Best in Show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: A dog competes during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140 Annual Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
Valerie Nunes-Atkinson reacts after CJ, a German shorthaired pointer, won best in show at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Sophia Rogers celebrates with Kiarry's Back In The Saddle, an American foxhound, after winning the junior showmanship competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A komondor is shown in the ring during the working group competition at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Kent Boyles shows Rumor, a German shepherd, in the ring during the Best in Show competition at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
C.J., a German shorthaired pointer, is shown in the ring during the sporting group competition at the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. C.J. won best in Sporting group. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Dario, a Leonberger, tries to get at the treats in Sam Mammano's pocket during the working group competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 16: An American Cocker Spaniel gets in fur blown by a hair dryer in the grooming area on the second day of the 140th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. The dog competition culminates in the naming of the dog that is 'Best in Show.' (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Tibr, a 4-year-old saluki from Newcastle, Del., gets his picture taken as he participates in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: The Miniature American Shepherd competes as a new breed during the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2016 in New York City. The dog competition culminates in the naming of the dog that is 'Best in Show.' (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: An owner grooms his Beagle during the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2016 in New York City. The dog competition culminates in the naming of the dog that is 'Best in Show.' (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: A Standard Poodle competes during the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2016 in New York City. The dog competition culminates in the naming of the dog that is 'Best in Show.' (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Molly, a 13-inch Beagle from Bangkok, Thailand, is shown in the ring during the Hound group competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Michelle Scott shows her Rhodesian ridgeback in the ring during the hound group competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A Maltese is seen in the competiton area February 15, 2016 in New York during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140th Annual Dog Show. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: Dogs compete during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140 Annual Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: A pair of Yorkshire Terriers wait in the grooming area during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140 Annual Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: A dog waits in the grooming area during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140 Annual Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
Lucy, a Borzoi, is shown in the ring during the Hound group competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lucy won best in hound group. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Heart, a Labrador, and her owner/handler, Linday Brennan, of Columbia, N.J., walk off the main ring after picking up her trophy for winning the obedience portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Panda, a shitzu, is inspected by the judge in the ring during the Toy group competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Panda won best in Toy group. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Manny Comitini, of Stroudsburg, Pa., grooms Yukos, a Maltese, in the benching area during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: An owner takes out his Bichon Frise from the cage during the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2016 in New York City. The dog competition culminates in the naming of the dog that is 'Best in Show.' (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: A dog waits in the grooming area during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140 Annual Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
Rumor, a German shepherd, is shown in the ring during the Herding group competition during the 140th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Madison Square Garden in New York. Rumor won the best in Herding group. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: A dog competes in the agility area during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140 Annual Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: Viggo, a Bergamasco, who was named best of breed in the first round during the annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show, sits at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2016 in New York City. The dog competition culminates in the naming of the dog that is 'Best in Show.' (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Ophelia, a 4-year old bulldog from West Islip, N.Y., participates in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Notch, a 7-year-old Boarder Collie, competes in the agility portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A West Highland White Terrier runs the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Cora Vermillion, 5, of New York pets Nadia a Lowchen participating in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Maybelline, a 7-year-old Pug waits on the sidelines to compete in the agility portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A Coton De Tulear runs the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Pembroke Welsh Corgi runs the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Vislas and their owners wait on the sidelines of the agility portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Silver, left, Sirius, center, and Sterling of the Greater New York Havanese club participate in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A Norfolk Terrier runs the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Papillon runs the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Samara Chaplin and her pavilion Celeste participate in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Thy Cavagnaro and her American eskimo dogs Nuka, and Atka, in the background, participate in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Gunner, an American hairless terrier, waits for a treat while he participates in the meet the breed portion of the 140th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A Basset Hound waits in the grooming area February 15, 2016 in New York during the first day of competition at the Westminster Kennel Club 140th Annual Dog Show. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Brussels Griffon runs the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen waits to run the agility course during the 3rd Annual Masters Agility Championship on February 13, 2016 in New York, at the 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs entered in the agility demonstrate skills required in the challenging obstacles that they will need to negotiate. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
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