Canine influenza, commonly known as dog flu, is on the rise in some areas of the United States.
This winter, veterinarians have reported a surge in cases in Philadelphia, Minneapolis and North Texas, according to CBS News, and many are urging pet owners to have their dogs vaccinated against the contagious respiratory disease.
Dr. Lori Teller, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), previously told PEOPLE that, unlike human influenza flaring up in the winter, dog flu spreads year-round. "Outbreaks of canine influenza flare up from time to time," she said.
RELATED: Everything Dog Owners Should Know About Canine Flu and How it Is Affecting Pets This Winter
"The good news now is that there is more awareness and knowledge of the virus, and there are vaccinations available to help protect your dogs," Dr. Teller added.
Although vaccination may not entirely prevent the infection, it can "reduce the severity and duration of the illness," according to Teller. Pet owners can discuss the vaccination with their veterinarians to decide if it's appropriate for their dogs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, canine influenza is not life-threatening and there have been no reported cases of the virus spreading to humans.
RELATED: How to Protect Your Pup from the Dreaded Dog Flu This Season
Symptoms of the milder form of dog flu include a soft, moist, persistent cough, lethargy, sneezing and loss of appetite. More severe forms of dog flu may cause canines to develop high fevers and signs of pneumonia. Dog owners are advised to contact their veterinarian immediately if their pet stops eating or has difficulty breathing.
RELATED VIDEO: Hero Allergen Detection Golden Retriever Shows How She Protects the Lives of People with Severe Allergies
"The flu is spread by contact from dog to dog. Owners who suspect their dog has the flu should monitor dogs for signs of disease and seek veterinary care if they believe their dog may be sick. This helps to prevent the disease from spreading to healthy dogs," said Dr. Teller.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
The milder form is treated similarly to how humans recover from flu. Dr. Teller advises "making your dog as comfortable as possible" and ensuring they have "access to good nutrition, fresh water and a quiet place to rest. Most dogs recover from canine influenza within 2-3 weeks."