COVID-19 Animals in Canada

Animals in Canada

Updated May 12, 2020

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.

Risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people

The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human-to-human transmission. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of this disease. This is an area that continues to be studied. 

Pets and COVID-19

There have been several reports of infected humans spreading the virus to their pet dog or cat. It is still not clear how often this happens and under what circumstances. From the limited information available, it appears that some animals can get sick. A small number of laboratory studies suggest that cats, dogs, ferrets and hamsters can be infected with COVID-19.

How to keep your pets safe

It is important to remember that pets are not the source of the virus but are getting the virus from people (human-to-animal transmission). Pet owners should abide by the following recommendations if they:

In these circumstances:

  • avoid close contact with animals
    • do not:
      • let them lick you
      • snuggle or kiss them
      • share food with them
      • let them sit on your lap
      • let them sleep in your bed
  • practise good hygiene
    • wash your hands often, especially before and after touching animals, their food and supplies
    • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
    • avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • if possible, have another member of your household care for your animals
    • if this is not possible, always practise good hygiene, as noted above
  • restrict your animal's contact with other people and animals outside the household until your illness is resolved or you are no longer required by the public health authority to quarantine (self-isolate), approximately 14 days
    • keep your cats indoors at all times
    • keep your dogs on a leash or within a private fenced area when you take them outside to go to the bathroom

Pets contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you have no symptoms of COVID-19 and are not self-isolating, taking walks with your dog or spending time with your pet can help keep both you and your pet healthy.

Caring for exposed animals

Pets are not thought to be playing an important role in the spread of this disease. However, if you are caring for a pet that has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, it is recommended that precautions be taken for 14 days after the last possible exposure to the human case:

If possible, the animal should remain in their own home in order to minimize contact with any new people, animals or environments. 

An animal may need to be moved temporarily to a new location if the owner lives alone and needs to be hospitalized, such as to a:

  • clinic
  • shelter
  • new household

In these cases, the animal should be confined to one area in order to minimize contact with other people and animals.

Individuals at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness should avoid being temporary caregivers to exposed animals.

Livestock and COVID-19

To date, there have not been any reports of livestock being infected or getting sick with COVID-19. Early information from a small number of studies suggests pigs, chickens and ducks are not susceptible to the virus. The susceptibility of other livestock species is currently unknown. This is an area that continues to be studied and more information is anticipated.

How to protect your livestock

Producers should have business continuity plans to deal with the COVID-19 situation. Industry associations could be a helpful resource for farmers as they develop or revise their business continuity plans.

Livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always, particularly if they:

Producers should limit access to their premises of all non-essential people and specifically exclude people who:

  • have travelled abroad in the last 14 days
  • are ill, especially with symptoms of COVID-19
  • have been in close prolonged contact with a confirmed or suspected case in the last 14 days

Livestock producers should consult with the local public health authority regarding workers without symptoms (asymptomatic) who have had close prolonged contact with a COVID-19 case, or people with symptoms of COVID-19.

If possible, have another person care for your animals while you are sick or self-isolating. If this is not possible, ensure you follow basic infection prevention and control measures:

  • practise good respiratory etiquette
  • minimize your direct contact with animals 
  • put on clean clothes before going out to the barn
  • always wash your hands before and after touching animals, their food and supplies

These measures are:

  • recommended as a precaution
  • basic practices to prevent transmission of diseases between humans and animals

If you have concerns, seek professional advice from your veterinarian or a local public health professional who can help to answer your questions.

For more information regarding on-farm disease prevention, producers are encouraged to consult the:

Tests for COVID-19 in animals

Testing animals for COVID-19 is generally not recommended, as the virus is mainly spread from person-to-person and not through animal contact.

If your animal develops illness following exposure to a COVID-19 case, or person with COVID-19 symptoms, call your veterinarian so they can:

  • assess the situation and determine if your animal needs to be seen
  • help determine if your animal has another more common disease or condition

Vaccine against COVID-19 for animals

Currently, there are no licensed commercial vaccines against COVID-19 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.

Animals recently imported from affected areas

All animals entering Canada must meet import requirements set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The World Organisation for Animal Health does not recommend COVID-19 related trade restrictions for animals. 

However, broad travel restrictions are currently in place to limit non-essential travel. Individuals and rescue organizations importing rescue animals are subject to these travel restrictions and are considered under non-essential travel. Therefore, the importation of rescue dogs, cats and other animals should be postponed at this time.

Availability of animal health products in relation to COVID-19

The Canadian Animal Health Institute, working with its members and global affiliates, provides updates on any shortages, disruptions or delays in production for animal health products.

Additional information and guidance for veterinarians

A list of frequently asked questions for veterinarians on COVID-19 and animals is available on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association COVID-19 website.

COVID-19 and Animals Held in Zoos 

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) have been impacted by COVID-19 in several ways. This notice from CAZA describes the organization and the current situation related to COVID-19. 

COVID-19 and Animals in Shelters and Shelter Medicine: Resource

Shelter medicine is a unique veterinary specialty and the impact of COVID-19 has resulted in several changes to fundamental programs that may have long lasting effects on animal welfare. As restrictions begin to ease, shelters will need resources and guidelines for a safe and consistent return to programing. To address this need, the Ontario Shelter Medicine Association (OSMA), Association Vétérinaire Québécoise de Médecine de Refuge (AVQMR), and Humane Canada have launched a COVID-19 resource for Canadian shelters. The organizations have indicated that the site will be updated regularly to ensure it stays relevant. Initiatives such as the new Shelter Outreach Program (Toronto Humane Society) will help in the safe re-introduction of animal care at shelters. 


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