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Can Dogs Get Bird Flu?

Read time: 5 mins

12 Sep 2023

Yes, dogs can get bird flu.

Symptoms of Bird Flu in Dogs

Bird flu is a condition that, though rare, can affect our pooches.

Understanding the symptoms is vital to prompt identification and intervention. Here are the telltale signs to watch for:

Respiratory distress

Your dog may exhibit coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Laboured breathing and wheezing are also possible.

Lethargy and weakness

Infected dogs often become lethargic and weak. They may appear uninterested in their usual activities and have a noticeable decrease in energy levels.


A spike in body temperature is a common indicator of illness, including bird flu. Keep an eye on your dog's temperature using a rectal thermometer.

Loss of appetite

A sudden loss of appetite can be a red flag. Dogs with bird flu may refuse to eat or drink, leading to dehydration and weight loss.

Digestive issues

Vomiting and diarrhoea may occur in some cases, further contributing to dehydration and discomfort.

Neurological symptoms

In severe cases, neurological symptoms like seizures or uncoordinated movements may develop, indicating a more advanced stage of the disease.

How Do Dogs Get Bird Flu?

Understanding how dogs can contract bird flu is crucial for prevention. Bird flu is primarily a disease of birds, including poultry like chickens and ducks. However, certain strains can be transmitted to mammals, including dogs. Here's how it can happen:

Contact with infected birds

The most direct route of transmission is through close contact with infected birds, both wild and domestic. This can occur when dogs come into contact with the saliva, feces, or respiratory secretions of infected birds.

Contaminated environment

Dogs can also contract bird flu by being in environments contaminated with the virus. This might include areas where infected birds have been or surfaces contaminated with their excretions.

Consuming raw bird meat

While dogs are not as susceptible to bird flu as birds themselves, they can potentially become infected if they consume raw or undercooked bird meat that contains the virus.

Indirect contact

Additionally, dogs can indirectly contract bird flu if their owners or caregivers have been in contact with infected birds and transfer the virus through contaminated clothing or equipment.

Is Bird Flu Dangerous to Dogs?

The potential dangers of bird flu in dogs cannot be understated. While it's not common for dogs to contract the virus, it can have severe consequences.

In some cases, bird flu can lead to severe respiratory distress and pneumonia in dogs. These conditions can be life-threatening if not promptly addressed.Like any illness, bird flu can weaken your dog's immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections.Infected dogs can potentially transmit the virus to other dogs, although this is rare. It's essential to isolate an infected dog to prevent further spread.

Some strains of bird flu have zoonotic potential, meaning they can infect humans. While the risk is low, it's crucial to exercise caution, especially if your dog is infected.

How Do You Treat a Dog with Bird Flu?

If you suspect that your dog may have contracted bird flu or if they are exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, it's vital to seek immediate veterinary care. Treatment for bird flu in dogs focuses on alleviating symptoms, providing supportive care, and preventing complications. Here's what you can expect:


Upon suspicion or diagnosis of bird flu, it's essential to isolate your dog to prevent the potential spread of the virus to other animals.

Supportive care

Your vet may provide supportive care to manage symptoms. This can include medications to reduce fever, ease respiratory distress, and address vomiting or diarrhoea.


Ensuring your dog remains hydrated is crucial. In severe cases, intravenous fluids may be administered to maintain proper hydration.


Encourage your dog to eat by offering easily digestible, palatable foods. Consult your vet for guidance on a suitable diet for your dog's condition.


While bird flu is a viral infection, secondary bacterial infections can occur. In such cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to address bacterial complications.

Isolation period

Your dog will need to remain in isolation until they are no longer shedding the virus and have recovered. Follow your vet’s guidance for the duration of isolation.

Preventing Bird Flu in Dogs

Prevention is the key to safeguarding your dog against bird flu. Here are some things you can do:

Limit contact with birds

Avoid allowing your dog to interact closely with wild or domesticated birds, especially in areas where bird flu has been reported. Including dead ones.

Cook meat thoroughly

If you feed your dog meat, ensure it's cooked thoroughly to eliminate the risk of the virus.

Practise good hygiene

If you have been in contact with birds or bird environments, practise excellent hygiene by washing your hands and changing your clothes before interacting with your dog.


While there is no specific bird flu vaccine for dogs, maintaining your dog's overall health through regular veterinary visits and vaccinations can help bolster their immune system.