can a dog catch bird flu

Several cats and one dog in North America have died of the virus. Here’s how to keep them safe.

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A new strain of the H5N1 virus — more commonly known as “avian flu” or “bird flu” — has been spreading rapidly among birds since 2020; according to the CDCopens in a new tab, over 70 million birds have been infected. But in the past few months, a new development has worried infectious disease scientists and pet parents alike: Mammals, including domestic pets, have been diagnosed with H5N1 — and several of these cases have been deadly.

At least six cats have been diagnosed with H5N1 this year; most recently, two cats in Nebraska and one in Wyoming died of the virus. The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory released a statementopens in a new tab clarifying that the cat most likely contracted bird flu by “ingesting meat from wild waterfowl.” In January, two Oregon cats who lived in close contact with chickens died after becoming lethargic, depressed, and dehydrated.Â

And cats aren’t the only pets suffering from the contagious disease. Last week, a dog in Ontario, Canada died of bird flu, making him the first domestic dog to be diagnosed with the new strain. The good news is, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “the likelihood of cats and dogs catching HPAI seems very low.” Still, given its potential deadly consequences, it’s important to know how to keep your pet safe and what to look out for if you suspect they’ve been exposed to bird flu. Related article

What are the symptoms of bird flu in dogs and cats?Â

Remember, the likelihood of your pet contracting the bird flu is extremely low, so don’t become alarmed. By consuming infected birds or by spending extended periods of time in close proximity to infected birds, dogs and cats can contract the bird flu. Â Related article.

Luckily, RSV isn’t transmittable between humans and pets. However, there are a few extremely dangerous viral respiratory infections to be aware of.

Fever, lethargy, breathing difficulties, coughing, runny nose, and/or conjunctivitis symptoms, such as red eyes, eyes that seem squinty or sealed shut, and/or eyes with goopy greenish yellow discharge, are some possible symptoms. Dr. Fox says. Additionally, they may exhibit severe disorientation, behavioral abnormalities, weight loss, dehydration, lethargic openings in a new tab, and diminished awareness of their surroundings. The Nebraska cat first displayed signs of disorientation, such as circle walking, and then experienced excruciating tremors. Â.

The low infection rates mean that little research has been done on how bird flu manifests in dogs and cats. Get your pets to the vet as soon as possible if they exhibit signs of illness, such as behavioral abnormalities, following possible contact with a bird flu-infected bird. Â.

How to keep your pet safe from bird flu

If your cat has ever left an unpleasant “gift” of an animal’s corpse on your doorstep, you are aware of how much they enjoy chasing rodents and birds and how skilled they are at catching them. “Keeping cats indoors is a good practice for many reasons, and this is just another one,” said veterinarian Dr. Amy Fox says. When cats go outside, they are more likely to pursue, kill, and/or consume birds. ”.

Puppy outdoor time should be closely monitored, too. “Avoid taking your dog for walks in areas with a lot of wild birds or bird droppings, which can be concentrated around bird feeders,” advised Dr. Fox says. Never allow your dog to play with or catch birds, alive or dead. Additionally, you ought to keep your dog and poultry as far apart as you can if they share a large amount of space. Â.

You should also be careful about what you’re feeding your pet. In a case report from Dr. Sarah Sillman of the University of Nebraska, Dr. Sillman writesopens in a new tab, “Keeping cats indoors to prevent wild bird contact — particularly given the context of the current HPAI outbreak – and avoiding feeding uncooked poultry are recommendations to minimize risk of H5N1 infection.”

If your pet is showing signs of illness compatible with bird flu virus infection and has been exposed to infected (sick or dead) wild birds/poultry, you should monitor your health for signs of fever or infection. Take precautions to prevent the spread of bird flu.

While domestic poultry and wild migratory water birds are the primary hosts of bird flu viruses, other animals can also contract and spread these viruses. Mammals that consume (possibly) infected birds or poultry, such as tigers and leopards in zoos, farmed mink, stray or domestic animals like cats and dogs, and wild animals like seals, bears, foxes, and skunks, have all been known to contract bird flu viruses in the past. Periodically, H5N1 bird flu viruses have been found in certain domestic animals, such as cats during outbreaks in Thailand in 2004 and Northern Germany in 2006; in North America, the viruses have also been found in dogs, cats, and goat kids (young goats). The first cases of H5N1 virus infections in mammals were noted in December 2023 in both polar regions: an infected polar bear in Alaska died, and infections in elephants and fur seals in the Antarctic were reported. Contact with an infected wild, stray, feral, or domestic mammal can potentially expose humans to bird flu viruses, though this is unlikely, particularly if the animal is exposed to the person for an extended period of time without protection. Information is provided on this page for various groups of people who may come into close contact with sick or dead animals that are infected or may have been exposed to bird flu-infected birds.

If your domestic animals (e.g., cats or dogs) go outside and could potentially eat or be exposed to sick or dead birds infected with bird flu viruses, or an environment contaminated with bird flu virus, they could become infected with bird flu. While it’s unlikely that you would get sick with bird flu through direct contact with your infected pet, it is possible. For example, in 2016, the spread of bird flu from a cat to a person was reported in NYC. The person who was infected [2.29 MB, 4 pages] was a veterinarian who had mild flu symptoms after prolonged exposure to sick cats without using personal protective equipment.

If, within 10 days of being exposed to an infected or possibly infected animal, you experience any of these signs or symptoms, contact your state or local health department right away. Discuss your potential exposure and ask about testing. If testing is advised, try to stay as far away from people as you can until the results are in and/or you’ve recovered from your illness.

Additionally, close contacts (family members, etc. ) of persons who have come into contact with an individual or animal that carries bird flu viruses that have been verified by a lab should also keep an eye out for symptoms and indicators of illness for ten days following their exposure. In the event that close contacts of individuals exposed to H5 bird flu viruses exhibit symptoms, they should also get in touch with their state’s health department. More Information.


What are the symptoms of the bird flu in dogs?

Fever (Temperature of 100°F [37.8°C] or greater) or feeling feverish/chills* Cough. Sore throat. Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath.

Can my dog get avian flu from eating bird poop?

Can a dog get H5N1 influenza from eating bird poop? Potentially. It would have to be fairly fresh poop from an infected bird, with enough of a viral load to cause infection (but we don’t know how much of a load that is for a dog). I’d say the risk is pretty limited in most situations.

How do I know if my dog has the flu?

The signs of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite, but not all dogs will show signs of illness. The severity of illness associated with canine flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes death.

How do you prevent bird flu in dogs?

Help to reduce the spread and risk of avian influenza: Avoid contact with wild birds, even if they don’t look sick. Avoid surfaces that may be contaminated with saliva or feces from wild or domestic birds. Keep dogs, cats and other pets away from wild birds. Do not feed raw or uncooked poultry to pets.