A Dog Flu Outbreak in Florida Is Forcing Shelters to Stop Intake and Adoptions · The Wildest

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A Dog Flu Outbreak in Florida Is Forcing Shelters to Stop Intake and Adoptions

Everything you need to know about canine influenza.

by Sio Hornbuckle
June 26, 2024
Sad dog at animal shelter.
Chalabala / iStock

In Florida, Tampa Bay area animal rescues are scrambling as they face a massive outbreak of canine influenza (aka dog flu), a highly contagious respiratory illness. Dogs are being moved out of shelters so the facilities can be disinfected, which is halting operations and delaying adoptions, reported Fox 13. Hundreds of pups are experiencing symptoms; tragically, one dog at The Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) passed away.

For the very first time since its creation 112 years ago, the HSTB has stopped accepting new dogs; they plan to begin accepting pups again on July 12. “Our leadership did not make this decision lightly," HSTB CEO Sherry Silk told Fox 13. “HSTB prioritizes the health of its animals above all else. Unfortunately, this is an unprecedented situation that calls for extreme and immediate action to protect dogs in Tampa Bay.”

At another local facility, Pasco County Animal Services (PCAS), 127 dogs were exposed to canine influenza and 75 percent became symptomatic. PCAS has stopped adoptions, surgeries, intakes, and rescue transfers until July 3.

The Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center (PRC) is also temporarily halting operations. They will begin accepting dogs and resume adoptions on July 15. “This is the biggest operation we’ve ever had,” Scott Trebatoski, the director of PRC, told Fox 13. “We’re about 150 percent capacity, so there’s no way to contain it here.”

What pet parents should know about dog flu 

Dogs who become sick with canine influenza show symptoms similar to those of the human flu. Dogs may experience a cough, fever, runny nose, lethargy, eye discharge, or a loss of appetite. Most cases are mild, but canine influenza can sometimes be severe. Unlike the human flu, there’s no dog flu season; canine influenza occurs throughout the year.

It takes two to four days for an infected dog to become sick, and not all dogs with the flu will show symptoms. “Only 80 percent of dogs affected by canine influenza show flu-like symptoms, but all infected dogs can spread the infection,” veterinarian Dr. Sara Greenslit wrote for tus.

Treatment for the flu varies. “Based on your dog’s exam and signs, [treatment] may include antibiotics for secondary infections, fluid therapy, nutritional support, appetite stimulants, and dog-specific fever-reducing anti-inflammatory drugs,” wrote Greenslit.

The good news is, there’s a dog flu vaccine. It has been proven to reduce the duration and severity of canine influenza cases.

Dog flu isn’t contagious between dogs and people; according to the CDC, there has never been a reported case of a person infected with canine influenza. The flu is highly contagious between dogs, though, and any pup with canine influenza should be quarantined from other dogs in the home. That’s why, while dog flu is always serious, it’s an even bigger problem for crowded shelters.

“The community should not panic,” Danyelle Van Horn, the HSTB Director of Shelter Operations, told Fox 13. “While it should be taken seriously by pet owners, canine influenza is much more dangerous in shelter environments than in private homes because of the sheer number of animals housed together and the multiple avenues of transmission.”

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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