Dog flu is spreading in central Florida, vets warn

Pet owners are asking why they've not been warned about the disease.

10News first told you about the dog flu outbreak in Florida in May, and it's still spreading. Veterinarians tell us dogs have been diagnosed as recently as this week.

“Not once was the dog flu ever mentioned to us, much less a vaccine for it,” William Childs said of his recent visits to vets in the area.

However, there’s an outbreak in Florida right now. According to the University of Florida’s veterinary hospital, 164 cases have been confirmed in 13 counties this year, with the most recent cases in central Florida. There could be even more cases because there’s no mandatory testing or reporting for the dog flu.

“This is not something we normally deal with,” Dr. Donna McWilliams of My Pet’s Animal Hospital in Lakeland said.

McWilliams explains dog flu typically doesn't make its way to Florida, but this year it has. The symptoms are, at best, coughing and sneezing. At worst, it could lead to pneumonia and death.

She's gone so far as to tell people not to bring their dog to events where there'll be others around, like First Friday next month in downtown Lakeland.

“The current guidelines are, if your dog is not vaccinated, it should really stay home,” she said.

The vaccination is two shots over several weeks and can cost as little as $40. There are only two strains of dog flu, so the vaccines are for one of the specific strains. Vets tell us that makes them extremely effective.

 

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