It's already a tough flu season. Many Texans are suffering. For dog owners, cuddling their beloved pet during an illness brings comfort. Now, your dog might also need comfort.  Unfortunately, a nasty strain of dog flu is ravaging North Texas.

Texas is now one of the hardest-hit states for canine influenza. Basically, canine influenza is the doggie version of human flu. Symptoms are very similar including fever, cough, and runny nose.  The dog's appetite also will most likely diminish.

According to the Pet Med Center website from San Antonio, Dog Flu Alert, because canine influenza is caused by a relatively new virus, dogs have no natural immunity. The bug is highly contagious. Visiting places where dogs congregate such as boarding facilities, doggie daycares, dog parks or groomers puts dogs at higher risk.

Even worse, dogs can spread the disease even before they show symptoms.

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There are two strains of contagious influenza A dog flu viruses. One is the H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus. There are bi-valent vaccines for the viruses that protect your dog against both strains of influenza A. Your vet can advise you if your dog needs the shot.

Fortunately, if your dog is needle shy the flu shots, and there are two in the series, can be administered by squirting the vaccine inside the animal's cheek or nose.

The best treatment for a dog with flu is to be supportive and make sure your dog has plenty of liquids and is comfortable while recovering. In some cases, broad-spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected. In about 10% of cases, the flu can progress to more serious pneumonia. This is most likely in dogs with weak immune systems, underlying other health concerns, and very young and older dogs.

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The good news, for now, is that dog flu cannot be transmitted to humans.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, that does not mean the dog flu couldn't possibly mutate into a form that humans could catch. They will be closely monitoring the virus for mutations.

There is good news for cat owners so far this season. Even though cats can catch their own versions of the flu, as of now, there are no widespread outbreaks. In any event, try to keep your cat and its smug attitude away from your dog if he gets sick. It will do nothing for his morale.

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To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.

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