SARASOTA – If you have a four-legged friend, you should be on high alert, as cases of canine influenza are popping up around the country.

Tampa, in particular, just saw a large outbreak this summer after a dog show.

“You really are probably one of the parts of the country that’s more likely to see the new strain of canine influenza, which is called H3N2,” Dr. Andrea Sanchez of Banfield Pet Hospital said.

It can easily spread anywhere, like boarding kennels, grooming salons and dog parks.

The main symptom to look for is a dry cough.

“Almost like there’s something stuck in their throat, and they’re trying to get it out,” Sanchez said.

A runny nose is another symptom, but some of the signs are behavioral.

“The point where you would wanna worry and call your vet to get in for an appointment would be if your dog stops eating, or loses their energy levels, stops wagging their tail, kind of doesn’t have that same pep in their step,” Sanchez said.

Outbreaks of dog flu are year-round, and it is highly contagious among dogs for three weeks.

If your dog is showing mild symptoms but acting normal, Sanchez says don’t be so quick ot bring them in.

“You don’t want it to spread to other dogs, and you don’t want the stress of a vet visit to make it worse,” Sanchez said. “If they’re staying home and get worse, that’s the time you would take them in and test them to see if it is canine influenza.”

There is a vaccine available for canine influenza. For more information, visit