Avian influenza in pets: Recognising symptoms and taking prompt action

Avian influenza, a highly contagious and virulent disease, is a serious threat to both birds and pets, including cats and dogs. Outbreaks of the disease in various countries have caused concern among pet owners as the disease can be fatal and spreads quickly.

Recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO) highlights the importance of vigilance and proactive measures for pet owners, as cases of avian influenza have been reported in Poland and Estonia.

Avian influenza in pets: Recognising symptoms and taking prompt action
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Symptoms of avian flu in pets

Recognising the early symptoms of avian influenza in pets is crucial because of its subtle nature. Here’s what pet owners should look out for:

Fever and general weakness: An elevated body temperature, coupled with noticeable weakness and lethargy, may signal the onset of infection. Decreased interest in eating or playfulness, along with abdominal distension, sneezing, coughing and conjunctival redness may also indicate fever.

Respiratory distress: Respiratory distress and persistent coughing may indicate underlying problems with the pet’s respiratory system. Laboured breathing combined with coughing may indicate infection.

Neurological symptoms: The presence of tremors and seizures suggests a potentially serious condition, which could include avian influenza or another infection. Prompt veterinary intervention is essential in these cases.

Preventive measures and actions

To protect your pets from the risk of contracting avian flu, follow these important precautions:

  • Avoid wild birds and their droppings: Avoid direct contact with wild birds and their droppings, especially in areas where avian influenza has been reported.
  • Monitor health and seek veterinary advice: At the slightest suspicion of illness, contact your veterinarian immediately for assessment and advice.
  • Maintain a clean living environment: Make sure your pet’s living area is always clean and hygienic. Regular disinfection of their environment is essential.
  • Limit interactions during outbreaks: Reduce your pet’s interactions with other animals, especially during outbreaks.
  • Follow recommended preventive measures: Follow your veterinarian’s recommended preventive care regimen to help strengthen your pet’s immune system.


It is important to understand that avian influenza can pose a risk to both animals and humans. If you notice any unusual symptoms in your pet, seek veterinary advice immediately. Swift action can significantly reduce the risk of transmission.

It is important to note that the information in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please consult with your veterinarian.

Prepared by Mary Clair

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