Tampa Bay area vet: All dogs should be vaccinated for flu

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TAMPA BAY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay area vet wants pet owners to know we are in the midst of a potentially-deadly “dog flu” outbreak in Florida.

That means you should leave your dogs at home during pet-friendly events.

At Lake Crago Dog Park in North Lakeland, pet owners had no idea the dog flu had spread to Florida, or that there’s a vaccine for it.

“We weren’t even aware of it,” pet owner William Childs said.

That has Dr. Donna McWilliams, a veterinarian with My Pet’s Animal Hospital in Lakeland, warning pet owners.

“There are still cases that are in the city limits that I was made aware of yesterday, and in the surrounding areas, Winter Haven, Orlando, as late as last week,” she said.

This prompted her concern about September’s First Friday event, which is themed “Dog Days Downtown.”

“I got to thinking, wow, we’re still in the middle of a canine flu outbreak and that could be a real hazard,” Dr. McWilliams said.

That’s because the virus is highly contagious.

“When a dog sneezes they can sneeze up to 20 feet. So if you happen to walk by with your dog and an infected dog sneezes and your dog inhales that, there you go,” Dr. McWilliams said.

She says the dog days may be better without dogs, at least if they aren’t vaccinated.

It’s a warning she thinks all pet owners need to hear.

“Right now, the current guidelines are, if your dog is not vaccinated, it should really stay home,” Dr. McWilliams said.

“Pets are important, just as important as kids,” Childs said.



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