Over the recent months, Britain has witnessed an increase in cases of Avian Influenza (or Bird Flu), a highly transmissible disease spread by birds affecting various parts of the UK. Mainly reported in rural and coastal areas, this disease can be passed between humans and pets so vigilance when walking your dog is fundamental to keep both you and your dog 100% safe.
With the summer temperatures, especially over the recent Bank Holiday, still rising and heat waves still expected across Britain, extra precaution must be taken on walks to the beach, coastal paths and even woodland walks for both you and your furry friend.
Wanting to keep all customers, human and furry, safe and sound when out and about, here’s everything you need to know about avoiding Avian Flu.
Can Avian Flu Affect My Dog?
As our four-legged friends have a tendency to explore the world with their noses and mouths, picking up the odd bit of seaweed, rock or even branch isn’t too much of a worry on a day to day basis. However, with rises in Avian Flu throughout parts of the UK, keeping an eye on your area’s reports can help keep your canine companion safe and sound.
Spread upon contact, Avian Flu contraction is very low amongst our canine companions but isn’t completely rare. Symptoms of Avian Flu in your dog might present as:
However, the disease can be transferred to humans resulting in severe flu like symptoms so if you believe your dog has been in contact with birds with suspected Avian Flu - it is best to get them to vets and you to the GP as soon as possible.
How Can I Avoid Avian Flu?
With reports from the RSPCA recommending pet owners to be vigilant when exploring the outdoors with the canine companion, we suggest keeping your dog on a lead at all times when out in the countryside and coastal areas that have had reports of Avian Flu.
As seabirds, such as seagulls, being the highest species for Avian Flu contraction, if you live in a coastal area and your dog loves trips to the beach - keep an eye out for dead birds in the vicinity which your dog might have a liking to pick up or play with.
How Can I Help the Spread?
Although the disease is managed nationally by DEFRA (department for environment, food and rural affairs), there are steps you can take to minimise contact with infected birds in your area and even your home.
Regularly cleaning bird feeders with mid disinfectant, removing old food and space feeders out can help minimise the spread.
If you notice multiple deceased birds when out and about with your furry friend, particularly in an area reported to have Avian Flu cases, DO NOT PICK UP OR TOUCH, report it immediately to Defra using their contact number 03459 33 5577.
After trips to the beach with your furry friend, bathing both yourselves and your pet thoroughly (at the same time if you can manage it) can help prevent any bacteria transmitted on your bodies.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that the chances of your pooch or you contracting the disease are low but not impossible so following our top tips will keep both you and your pooch safe on any outdoor adventure.