Bird flu in dogs:
Sure, you may have heard the reports on the news which indicates bird flu, also known as avian flu, is on the rise. What you may not know, however, is that a few cases of H5N1 bird flu in dogs has been reported. This is a strain of the avian influenza and in some overseas locations such as Thailand, dogs have actually died as a result of being infected with the bird flu.
In addition to the bird flu in dogs, another strain of the avian flu is also horse flu in dogs. This avian influenza has mostly impacted horses but most recently it has impacted racing greyhounds. This H3N8 flu in dogs is very infectious among dogs but has not been known to cause ailments in humans. One of the reasons being, this form of influenza until most recently was very rare. As a result, most if not all dogs did not build up a natural immunity towards it. For instance, in 2005 from January through May in New York State, major outbreaks occurred in all breeds of dogs. In addition, outbreaks occurred at twenty racetracks in ten states. As for the good news? There is no concrete evidence to show that this virus can be transferred from dogs to humans, cats, horses, or other animals.
So, what exactly is the avian flu in dogs with a variety of strains known as the bird flu and horse flu? Referring to an illness caused by a variety of strains of flu viruses, the avian flu in dogs encompasses 8,000 to 12,000 species. All subtypes of this adapt to birds which explains why the avian flu virus is often synonymous with the bird flu. In fact, a flu virus strain can be adapted to a species or to more than one species. You may have heard of humans infected by the avian flu so not only dogs are infected by this ailment.
In the case of bird flu in dogs, cases have not been reported to indicate that dogs with the flu have transmitted their illness to humans. However, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it may just not have been reported. In addition, when it comes to bird flu in dogs, no studies have been shown to state that dogs can transmit their own bird flu to other dogs.
As for symptoms and prevention measures regarding bird flu in dogs, for instance in Thailand dogs were likely infected with bird flu after they ate raw meat from ducks who were also infected with the bird flu. And dogs infected with the horse flu were likely infected at dog tracks and their infection actually didn’t relate to contact with birds.
One prevention measure is poultry. To prevent bird flu in dogs, the animals should not eat raw poultry which is suspected of being infected with bird flu. The result of bird flu may be complications such as secondary bacterial infections. Once diagnosed, your veterinarian may also recommend isolating dogs with bird flu from healthy dogs. There are also antiviral drugs and other medicine to treat your infected dog.
For more information about bird flu in dogs ask your local vet. The Dog Bowl has also put together some questions you can ask your vet - click here.