Are Dogs Susceptible To Bird Flu?

James Glover
by James Glover
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QuestionRecent news accounts have reported that cats and martens have died from avian flu h5n1 from eating infected birds. Are dogs susceptible to the bird flu? (Mary Jane DelMastro - New York)

Answer

The primary reason why cats are more likely to contract avian flu is because they like to catch birds, and will even interfere with dead bird carcasses. This means of course they are likely to be in far more contact with potential disease-carriers than dogs. However, the potential transfer of bird flu from birds to cats increases the risk of the virus strain mutating into one that passes more readily between other mammals - including dogs and humans. I would think the chances of a mammalian outbreak being limited to just one species is unlikely, however no one can say whether the disease will develop into one that can readily infect any mammal.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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