Are your pets at risk of Avian Flu?

There is an ongoing outbreak of the highly pathogenic HPA1 Avian Flu Virus, which has now been responsible for killing 8 skunks in Canada.

Concerns are that this virus is mutating.

In general there is very low risk to your dog or cat, BUT it’s just a good idea to keep their immune system primed, as diseases keep popping up and changing.

One way to do this is our supplements for dogs and cats…

The cat bib to stop cats from hunting birds… would your cat wear this?

Skunks are dying of avian flu. Should you be concerned about your pets?

Experts are advising British Columbians, and pet owners in particular, to take precautions after a recent case where several skunks died of avian flu in Metro Vancouver.

On Monday, the province said eight skunks in Vancouver and nearby Richmond had died, likely after scavenging dead wild birds, and they all tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus. They later confirmed the virus was the cause of the animals’ deaths.

The deaths of the skunks are part of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian flu (HPAI) that has been affecting North America since last year, with thousands of birds culled in B.C. and significant impacts to the poultry industry.

As wild birds arrive in B.C. by the thousands for the annual spring migration, it’s leading to experts advising the public to be aware of the threat avian flu presents, and to calls for more robust surveillance of HPAI across the province.

The good news is that, actually, for cats and dogs, the risk of highly pathogenic avian influenza is actually quite low, ” said Hannah Weitzenfeld, the senior manager of animal health at the B.C. SPCA.

“We do want you to keep exercising your dogs and going out.”

Weitzenfeld added, however, that pets should be kept away from water sources where birds have congregated, as well as bird seed on the ground.

“The avian influenza virus, it can persist in the environment for a number of days — we don’t know exactly how many days, ” she said. “If we are seeing bird droppings, then stay away from those.”

While Weitzenfeld says she isn’t aware of many cases of avian flu spreading from mammal to mammal, researchers looking into an outbreak at a European mink farm said the virus could have spread through the thousands of the animals there.

However, officials have said the risk to humans is very low at this time. Weitzenfeld says the case of feral skunks dying of avian flu underscores general advice for pet owners — limit all interactions with wildlife.

“We definitely want to keep our pets away, both for the sake of our pets and also for the sake of the wildlife, from a safety and a health perspective, ” she said.

As for eager cats who may want to jump on a wild bird?

Weitzenfeld says a product called a cat bib — a special collar attachment that passively thwarts hunting — might come in handy.

“If you do see wildlife that is sick or deceased outside … do not touch them, just please call the wild bird hotline, ” she added.

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

P.S. The risk to your pets is EXTREMELY low, but you don’t want them eating dead birds… imagine ingesting millions of virus particles, and not not getting sick.

But be vigilant, discourage your cat from hunting, and consider supplements to keep their immune system working strong.

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