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:

24 PHOTOS
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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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