The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says a domestic dog in Oshawa, Ont., died last week after contracting highly pathogenic avian influenza.
The actual cause of death has not been confirmed, but the dog had scavenged a dead wild goose several days prior to its passing. Samples subsequently taken from the dog tested positive for the H5N1 virus and a necropsy performed on April 3 showed signs of respiratory system involvement.
While there have been detections in wild mammals, such as foxes, bears, mink, racoons, and dolphins, as part of the ongoing outbreak, the CFIA says this is the first case of its kind in Canada.
“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,” notes the agency.
The risk to the general public of contracting H5N1 remains low, and evidence suggests the risk of a person being infected by their pet is minor, says the CFIA.
Pet owners are still encouraged to take the following precautions to protect their pets and themselves:
- don’t feed pets (e.g., dogs or cats) any raw meat from game birds or poultry
- don’t allow pets to consume or play with dead wild birds found outside
- contact their veterinarian if they have questions about their pet’s health.
As of the end of March, over 7.2 million birds on commercial farms in Canada have died or been depopulated as part of the ongoing outbreak going back to early 2022. The CFIA has reported three new cases on farms southeast of Montreal in the last two days.