Dog flu cases reported in Fla., veterinarians urge owners to vaccinate dogs

TAMPA -
Before you travel and board your dog or drop your dog off at daycare, you may want to consider a new vaccine. It protects against two types of highly contagious dog flu. 
 
Dr. Melissa Webster of Tampa Veterinary Hospital said there are known cases of the flu in Sarasota, Gainesville and Deland. 
 
“We probably average around 150 dogs boarding-wise,” Edie Wilhoit, president of Fuzzie Buddies in Tampa, said.
 
With that many dogs at Fuzzie Buddies, word that canine influenza cases are in Florida is scary.
 
“We are literally going to be on it, checking it, finding out where its from how close it is with us, talking to our area vets,” Wilhoit said.
 
“We’re really recommending strongly to make sure your pets vaccinated for dog flu and not just the H3N8 which is the US strain, but the H3N2 that we call the Asian strain,” Dr. Webster said.
 
The dog flu is extremely contagious and can live on dog's hair for days. You would notice coughing, runny nose and fever. It can be fatal for some dogs. 
 
“The headache with H3N2 is 20 percent of the dogs can be asymptomatic, meaning not coughing, not having nasal discharge, not running a fever, but spreading and shedding the virus,” Dr. Webster said.
 
It's only spread between dogs, not to humans. Dr. Webster said you need to get the bivalent vaccine that protects against both strains of canine flu for less than $40.
 
“I regularly hear hey I don’t want to over-vaccinate my pet, well when your pet is the one dying of influenza and we could have easily vaccinated it to prevent the disease as best as possible, please just re-think what you’re feeling.”
 
To find out more about the canine flu, visit Tampavet.com
 
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