Importing dogs: a risk for everyone

Importing dogs: a risk for everyone

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After more than 2 years of a pandemic, I won't teach you anything by saying that diseases can travel and spread across the world in no time. However, it is not only humans who can report a disease from abroad. Animals too. Thoughts on bringing dogs to Canada.

Importing dogs to Canada is nothing new, but it has undoubtedly seen a boom since the pandemic.&nbsp ; 

There has been a major uptick in requests to adopt animals, especially dogs, across the country. Some have sniffed out a bargain and are importing dogs from abroad, bred in puppy mills, which they resell here for exorbitant prices. 

Furthermore, we see more in addition to organizations dedicated to rescue missions, organizing transport to repatriate dogs from elsewhere, for humanitarian reasons. 

In short, more and more dogs are entering Canada. However, doing so increases the risk of bringing into the country various diseases that are transmissible not only to animals, but also to humans. 

Here are some examples. In 2018, in Ontario, two dogs from South Korea tested positive for canine influenza (H3N2), a highly transmissible disease between dogs, previously absent in Canada.  

< p>It's a fairly virulent “flu”. Affected dogs can be very sick, sometimes even die. You should know that with influenza viruses in animals, there is always this fear of a possible mutation towards humans. 

Even rabies

Importing dogs from abroad is also responsible for the appearance of leishmaniasis in Quebec, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes and caused by a parasite that annually infects millions of humans living in tropical areas and which affects the skin. 

In 2020, veterinarians detected the presence of leishmaniasis in dogs imported from Morocco in two Canadian provinces, including Quebec, where 10 cases were then reported in barely a year. It's not nothing! 

And what about rabies? A deadly disease that affects mammals, including humans. Symptoms of rabies can appear late, transmission to humans and other animals remains possible. 

However, rabies still circulates among dogs in several countries of the world. Dogs account for up to 99% of human transmission cases in some countries.

This is why new measures from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), effective as of September 28, have been announced, namely the ban on importing dogs for commercial purposes from a list of 100 countries at high risk for rabies.  

While imperfect, these measures are obviously intended to protect humans and pets as well as reduce the risk of introduction of rabies. canine rabies (caused by viruses of the canine variant) in Canada. 

Of course, there is still a long way to go (border control measures, quarantine, etc.) to protect even better the Canadian population against the inopportune arrival of other potential zoonoses via the importation of dogs. Individually, we must therefore remain vigilant before adopting animals potentially from elsewhere. 

Read the recommendations of the Order of Veterinary Physicians of Quebec on this subject (www.omvq.qc.ca).