San Franciscan veterinarians are seeing a spike in pet owners who are vaccinating their dogs against the canine flu.
At least 14 cases of the highly contagious illness have been confirmed in the region so far, including the city's first on Jan. 19.
All of those dogs are thought to have been infected by the flu in the South Bay.
Village Square Veterinarian Hospital in Portola Valley and Woodside Veterinarian Clinic in Redwood City emailed their clients to suggest vaccinating any dog that typically receives "kennel cough" immunizations or spend a lot of time around other dogs -- in day care, walking groups or parks.
Both clinics write: "The vaccine is given twice (1st dose + booster after 2 to 4 weeks). After that, the vaccine is annual. The CIV vaccine we carry has efficacy against both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains. The earliest age the vaccine can be given is 7 weeks. The dogs are not considered to have full immunity until 2 weeks after the booster."
San Francisco SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Thomas Mason says symptoms include lethargy, coughing, runny nose, fever and occasionally pneumonia -- which can be costly to treat and even fatal.
Mason says the SPCA has vaccinated several hundred dogs since word of the sickness spread. Last year, it vaccinated just a handful.
"The focus again has been on vaccination because that's the one tool that we have that can potentially limit infection," says Mason. "If a dog picks it up, the vaccine can help limit the severity of the symptoms."
Mason says the SPCA is opening special vaccine clinics for its existing patients.
Veterinarians and pet store clinics also offer the vaccine for the current strain, known as H3N2.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says its predecessor, H3N8, originated in horses and spread to dogs. And now it can spread from dog to dog.
H3N2 was first detected in South Korea in 2007 before making its way to the United States in 2015. It made headlines that year after an estimated 1,000 dogs in Chicago contracted the virus.
The virus is not contagious to humans.