Dog dies from Avian flu in Ontario

Dog sitting on gravel with 2 Canadian geese in the foreground

A pet dog has died after testing positive for avian influenza in Ontario.

Brown dog sitting behind 2 Canadian geese in the foreground.
Dog sits and watches Canadian Geese

Public Health said in a statement released Tuesday that the dog, which tested positive for the pathogen on April 1, is the only case of its kind in Canada. The dog in Oshawa contracted the infection after chewing on a wild goose.

It died after developing symptoms, the agencies said.

The news comes after two dead waterfowl in Brampton and Caledon, Ont. tested positive for the virus in late March. The city said “dozens” of other waterfowl in the areas have also died and are assumed to have the disease.

A necropsy was completed on the dog on April 3 and “showed respiratory system involvement,” according to Public Health. Further testing is currently underway, it said.

“The number of documented cases of avian influenza H5N1 in non-avian species, such as cats and dogs is low, despite the fact that this virus has caused large avian outbreaks globally over the last few years,” the statement reads.

“Based on the current evidence in Canada, the risk to the general public remains low and current scientific evidence suggests that the risk of a human contracting avian influenza from a domestic pet is minor.”

There has never been a human case of avian influenza contracted from a domestic pet in Canada. At this time, the agencies also said there has been no human-to-human transmission.

“Nonetheless, owners are encouraged to take appropriate precautions to protect their pets and themselves,” they said, advising pet owners to avoid feeding pets raw meat from game birds or poultry and to stop pets from playing with or consuming dead birds.

Public Health Canada, in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, says it is tracking avian influenza activity in Canada “closely.”

In March, the Toronto Zoo closed its aviaries as a precautionary measure after the virus was detected at a southern Ontario commercial poultry farm.

According to the federal government, the first detections of a current outbreak of avian influenza in animals in Canada were reported in foxes in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, and seals, dolphins and black bears in Quebec in July 2022.

Precautions to take while walking your dog

  • Keep dogs away from any dead bird carcasses
  • Be extra careful of bird excrement on walks, especially near water where large numbers of birds gather
  • Watch your pet for any symptoms such as lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, coughing and trouble breathing

Symptoms of flu in Dogs

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden tremors or seizures

Contact your vet immediately if any symptoms appear.

If you notice any dead birds, do not touch or handle them and contact your local health authority.

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