04/16/2015 09:26 EDT | Updated 06/28/2015 06:59 EDT

Petco reopening 2 Chicago boarding centres following precautionary shutdown over canine flu

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Petco plans to reopen two of its pet boarding and daycare centres in Chicago on a limited scale after shutting down for two weeks as a precaution over a surge in canine flu cases.

The two Pooch Hotel locations will open Friday for customers that have legitimate needs, the San Diego-based company said. The locations will not be open for daycare, and dog training in area Petco and Unleashed by Petco stores will be available for private classes only. Pets boarded at Pooch will have limited interaction with other pets and won't have group play time.

"We share in our community's concern about protecting pets from this virus, and have recently closed and disinfected our facilities in an effort to minimize risk of exposure and keep pets safe while under our care," said Jason Michal, vice-president of Pooch Hotel, in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the flu virus was first observed in dogs about a decade ago. About 80 per cent of infections are mild and it is rarely fatal. The virus spreads through contact with infected dogs or contaminated objects, and the agency advises that pet owners should clean clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands after exposure to dogs showing signs of infection. Vaccines are available, and treatment can include medication and fluids.

The condition can cause lingering coughs, lethargic behaviour, poor appetite and fever. It's not contagious to humans and won't spread to cats either. But a person who's been in contact with a dog carrying the virus can inadvertently spread it to another dog.

The surge in canine flu cases has prompted other pet care providers to also take precautions. Rival PetSmart Inc., earlier this month, closed boarding centres in Chicago out of caution over the virus.