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Animals susceptible to H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)

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HPAI in animals


H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu, continues to spread across the globe. HPAI can infect multiple species of domestic chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, (and more), as well as wild and pet birds.

Signs of HPAI in birds

Clinical signs in pet birds are similar to those in other bird species. The severity of clinical signs may vary between species and individual birds.

Risks to your pet bird

Birds spread avian influenza viruses through their feces and secretions (mucus, saliva). Pet birds with outdoor access may become infected through direct or indirect contact with infected wild or domestic birds. Pet birds kept indoors may be exposed through contaminated things such as clothing if proper precautions are not taken.

Tips to protect your pet bird


In Canada, bird flu has also been sporadically detected in mammals such as raccoons, striped skunks, red foxes, cats and dogs.

In the United States, HPAI has been detected in dairy cattle.

In Europe, outbreaks of H5N1 HPAI have been reported in farmed mink.

Possible signs of HPAI in dairy cows

Signs of HPAI in farmed mink

Signs of HPAI in mammalian pets such as cats and dogs

Risks for your pets

While HPAI is primarily a disease of birds, it can also infect mammals, especially those who hunt, scavenge or otherwise consume infected birds.

For example, cats that go outdoors may hunt and consume an infected bird, or dogs may scavenge dead birds. In 2023, a dog in Canada was infected with avian influenza after chewing on a wild goose, and died after developing clinical signs.

If your pet has found a sick or dead bird or other wildlife, report it to your regional avian influenza hotline or the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC).

While most H5N1 HPAI cases in mammals involve direct contact with infected birds, exposure to heavily contaminated environments could also potentially lead to infection (for example, ponds or other bird congregation areas).

Tips to protect your mammalian pet


Among non-vertebrate species, research has shown that house flies (Musca domestica) and blow flies (Calliphora nigribarbis) could act as mechanical transmitters of H5N1 HPAI and other avian influenza viruses (AIV). The possible role of other insects such as darkling beetles in the transmission of AIV is under investigation.

HPAI risks for pet owners

There has not been a documented case of a human contracting HPAI H5N1 from a mammalian pet. While it is very unlikely for people to become infected with HPAI H5N1 following contact with an infected pet, such as a dog or a cat, pet owners are still encouraged to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves.

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