PLEASE VISIT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR RELEVANT DOCUMENTS AND ARTICLES
We have entered an unprecedented time in our country’s history due to various threats posed by COVID-19.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) wants to reassure members that their national association, in coordination with provincial veterinary medical associations and regulatory bodies, is in continuous contact with federal agencies, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), to bring veterinarians the most current information to protect their clients, teams, and families.
During this time, we ask that you keep these three key messages in mind:
- There is no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the COVID-19 to humans
- Social distancing and proper hygiene measures are critically important for everyone including clients, patients, and the veterinary team
- Pay attention to wellness (mental health) for you and others - the veterinary team and clients
Various levels of government are considering a mandatory shutdown of all “non-essential” services to limit community spread of the disease. The CVMA holds that veterinary practices and all veterinary services including where animals are housed for research purposes provide “essential” services to Canadians given that veterinary medicine is critical for public health, agri-food safety, pharmaceutical stewardship, and animal health and welfare. We have shared our view with government authorities.
Please refer to Dr. Scott Weese's, Chief of Infection Control at the Ontario Veterinary College, blog post on Veterinary medicine, essential services and social distancing for more information.
Please also read the CVMA's advisory on COVID-19 - Guidelines for Elective Services and Social Distancing.
Personal Protective Equipment
The CVMA is also aware of the current shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks and gloves in veterinary practices. CVMA is in discussions with various government bodies regarding this issue and will inform you as information becomes available. In the meantime, please refer to advice provided by Dr. Scott Weese, Chief of Infection Control at the Ontario Veterinary College, in his Worms and Germs blog post. Please also keep in mind regulations set forth by your provincial regulatory body.
Animals in Canada
Information on COVID-19 and Animals in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada’s website (Latest CFIA information for consumers on food and animal health – COVID-19). Please consult this website frequently as information will be updated as it becomes available.
Transmission of COVID-19 by livestock and pets
Although data is still limited, the CFIA is not aware of any reports worldwide of any animal getting sick after exposure to a human case, despite the large outbreak in humans. To date, there have been no reports of livestock being infected or sick with COVID-19 virus anywhere.
There are still many unknowns and scientists are trying to understand if and how it affects animals. There have been reports of two dogs in Hong Kong testing positive for COVID-19 viral material following exposure to a human COVID-19 case. Both of the dogs did not show any signs of being sick, and according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), there is no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the disease to humans.
Animal to human transmission of COVID-19
The current spread of COVID-19 is as a result of human to human transmission. According to the OIE, there is no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. Scientists are still trying to understand if and how it affects animals. This is an area that continues to be studied.
Precautionary measures around animals
As a precautionary measure, the CFIA recommends that people with COVID-19 symptoms or those who are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, should follow similar recommendations around animals, as they would around other people in these circumstances:
- avoid close contact with animals during your illness
- practise good handwashing and avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
- do not visit farms or contact livestock
- if possible, have another member of your household care for your animals
- if this is not possible, always wash your hands before and after touching animals, their food and supplies
- limit your animal's contact with other people and animals outside the household until your illness is resolved
Pets contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you are feeling well (no symptoms of COVID-19) and are not self-isolating because of COVID-19 illness, taking walks with your dog and/or spending other time with your pet can contribute to keeping both you and your pet healthy.
Precautionary measure for livestock producers
Livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always, particularly if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case. In addition to avoiding contact with animals, this includes excluding visitors or workers who:
- have travelled abroad in the last 14 days
- are ill, especially with symptoms of COVID-19
- have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case in the last 14 days.
For more information on-farm disease prevention, producers are encouraged to consult the:
Pet illness following exposure to COVID-19
Currently, there is no evidence that pets or other animals can become ill after exposure to the virus, so their illness is most likely unrelated. If your animal develops respiratory illness, talk to your veterinarian about other more common respiratory pathogens and other conditions that could be the cause of their illness. If you feel that your pet needs veterinary care, call your veterinarian rather than just going to the clinic. This will help your veterinarian assess the situation and determine if your pet needs to be seen. Their illness is most likely unrelated and measures including giving up your animal would not be needed.
Tests for COVID-19 in animals
Testing animals for COVID-19 is not recommended, as the virus is primarily transmitted person-to-person and not through animal contact. If your animal develops respiratory illness, talk to your veterinarian about other more common respiratory pathogens and other conditions that could be the cause of their illness.
Vaccine against the COVID-19 virus for animals
Currently, there are no licenced commercial vaccines against COVID-19 virus available in Canada for animals. There is no evidence that vaccinating animals with commercially available vaccines for other coronaviruses will provide cross-protection against COVID-19 virus.
Animals recently imported from affected areas
All animals entering Canada must meet import requirements set out by the CFIA. There are currently no specific requirements in place in Canada restricting animal importation related to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, until we know more, importers, rescue organizations and adoptive families should postpone importing any animals as much as possible.
We will continue to post COVID-19 information below as it becomes available.
Please also consult these trusted resources linked directly to their COVID-19 information pages: