COVID-19 Animals in Canada

Animals in Canada

Updated July 21, 2021

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

There's currently limited information on animals and COVID-19, especially on whether animals can spread the virus. In most circumstances, people are infecting animals (human-to-animal transmission).

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there haven't been any reports of pets spreading COVID-19 to people. However, reports from the Netherlands and Denmark suggest that mink have infected some workers on mink farms. This is an area that continues to be studied. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada tracks and analyzes research and case reports from around the world on COVID-19 and animals.

The tables on this page summarizes our current knowledge about which animals:

  • can get infected with COVID-19 through natural exposure in the environment
  • may be able to infect humans

Some animals may get sick and show signs of illness, such as:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting or diarrhea

These tables are based on official reports and peer-reviewed publications available as of April 20, 2021. Animal species not listed don't yet have any evidence available. For more information, see the OIE technical factsheet: Infection with SARS-CoV-2 in animals (PDF).

Pets and COVID-19

If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, it's healthy for you and your pet to:

  • go for walks
  • spend time together

There have been several reports of infected humans spreading the virus to their dog or cat. However, it's still not clear how often this happens or under what circumstances.

How to keep your pets safe

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are quarantining or isolating, follow these recommendations:

  • 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 or their supplies
    • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
    • avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • have another member of your household care for your animals
    • if this isn't possible, it's recommended that you wear a non-medical mask to care for your pet while you isolate at home
  • keep your pet away from people and animals outside your household until you're no longer ill or isolating
    • keep your cat indoors at all times
    • keep your dog in a private fenced area or ensure they're on a leash when you take them outside to go to the bathroom

Caring for exposed animals

We don't believe pets play an important role in the spread of this disease. However, if you're caring for a pet that has been around someone with COVID-19, precautions should be taken for 14 days after the animal's last exposure to the human case:

If possible, keep the animal in their own home. This will minimize contact with any new people, animals or environments. 

If the owner lives alone and needs to be hospitalized, their animal may need to move temporarily to a clinic, shelter or new household. In these cases, confine the animal to one area 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.  

If the animal shows signs of illness and you're concerned about their health, contact your veterinarian. 

Pets living in a long-term care home

It is highly recommended to have a written plan in place for any animals in the care of the LTCH itself, such as:

  • where in the facility the animal is allowed to go
  • who is responsible for regular care (e.g., feeding, elimination activities)
  • provision of veterinary care (both preventative and in case the animal becomes ill) for temporary removal from the facility if necessary

Additionally, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 at the LTCH:

  • Inform residents, staff and designated caregivers about how to keep any pets in the facility safe.
  • Any animal caregivers should follow similar precautions with pets as they would for interacting with people in the facility, including appropriate personal protective equipment and hand hygiene.
  • Facility-owned pets should be confined to one area in the LTCH, so that they don't roam freely. Ensure that these animals do not have access to the rooms of residents with COVID-19 (or other infectious diseases). Resident-owned pets should remain with their owner if possible.
  • If a pet was exposed to someone with COVID-19 and needs to be temporarily removed from the LTCH, follow the recommendations for caring for an exposed animal. Precautions should be taken for 14 days after the animal's last exposure to the facility. A pet can be returned to the facility as long as the animal is healthy.
  • Generally, testing animals for SARS-CoV-2 (PDF), the virus that causes COVID-19, is not recommended.
  • If a pet develops any signs of illness or you have questions about their management, contact your veterinarian.

Pets visiting a long-term care home

A clear policy regarding animal visitation should be in place, consistent with protocols for healthcare facility visitation. The types of animal visits should be individually addressed (for example, personal pets versus animal assisted [pet therapy] programs). If people are allowed to visit a facility, pets belonging to the same individuals may be considered as well, depending on the facility's animal visitation program.

  • Ensure pets are healthy and have not been exposed to anyone who is required to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to their visit.
  • Practise good hygiene.
    • Ensure everyone uses hand sanitizer or washes their hands before and after interacting with the animal.
  • Avoid bringing any unnecessary items into the facility (for example, blankets or toys).

Animal visits should not be permitted if there is an ongoing outbreak at the facility.

Livestock and other farmed animals

There have been no reports of livestock (such as cows, pigs, goats or sheep) being infected with COVID-19. Early results of studies in laboratory settings suggest that pigs and cows may be very mildly prone to the virus but don't spread it to other animals. Chickens, turkeys and ducks are not susceptible to the virus. The susceptibility of other livestock is still unknown, but studies are underway.

As of December 2020, there have been many reports of farmed mink being infected and getting sick with COVID-19 in many countries, such as:

  • Canada
  • the U.S.
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Lithuania
  • the Netherlands

Mink are easily infected with COVID-19, and it can spread rapidly once introduced to a mink farm. The most likely source of the virus introduction to farmed mink is infected humans. That's why it's important to know how to protect farmed animals and reduce the risk of transmission.

How to protect your livestock and other farmed animals

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

Follow normal biosecurity measures as always. Limit access of non-essential people to your premises, and exclude anyone who:

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

Consult with your local public health authority about guidance for farming and agricultural settings. A control plan checklist (PDF) is available from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada to help farm businesses reduce the spread of COVID-19. This checklist can be adapted for many types of agricultural businesses.

If you're sick or isolating, have another person care for your animals. If this isn't possible, follow infection prevention and control measures.

  • 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.
  • Practise good coughing and sneezing (respiratory) etiquette.
  • Wear a non-medical mask to care for your animals.
  • Wear a medical mask if you work on a mink farm (only wear a non-medical mask if medical masks aren't available).

We recommend these measures as a precaution to prevent transmission of diseases between humans and animals.

If you have questions or concerns, ask your veterinarian or a local public health professional.

For more information regarding on-farm disease prevention, consult the:

Tests for COVID-19 in animals

In general, testing animals for COVID-19 isn't recommended. The virus is mainly spread between people, not through animals.

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

There are no vaccines against COVID-19 available in Canada for animals. There's no evidence that vaccinating animals with vaccines for other coronaviruses will protect against COVID-19.

Importing animals 

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

There are no COVID-related restrictions on importing animals to Canada. It's recommended that individuals, rescue organizations and adoptive families postpone importing animals during the pandemic. Several factors may have a negative impact on the well-being of imported animals, including:

Before importing an animal, check the current outbreak situation at the animal's origin and destination. Find out if any travel restrictions are in place for people or animals.

Imported animals can carry diseases that we don't have in Canada. These diseases can spread to other animals or people. It's always a good idea to have a veterinarian examine a recently imported animal. They can advise you on ways to keep the animal, other animals and your family healthy.

Availability of animal health products

The Canadian Animal Health Institute provides updates on any shortages, disruptions or production delays for animal health products.

Information and guidance for veterinarians

A list of frequently asked questions for veterinarians (PDF) 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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04-17-2020COVID-19: FAQs for Pet Owners
04-17-2020Merck Animal Health Sponsors IMLocum and Gives Clinics Access to their Services Free of Charge until June 30th, 2020
04-17-2020COVID-19 Telemedicine Q&As
04-16-2020Steps to help prevent the next COVID-19: Proposed changes to animal farming rules in China
04-16-2020Spay/neuter and TNR During COVID-19: Information for Canadian Animal Shelters (April 17)
04-16-20208 Domains of Well-Being ... COVID-19 Style! Week 2
04-16-2020Webinar: COVID-19 and Companion Animals – What We Know Today (April 17)
04-15-2020COVID-19 and Animals - Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians
04-15-2020A rapid review of evidence of infection of pets and livestock with humanassociated coronavirus diseases, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19, and evidence of the fomite potential of pets and livestock
04-15-2020Ontario Shelter Medicine Association - Q&A: Can My Pet Catch or Transmit the COVID-19 Virus?
04-15-2020Keeping Canadians and Workers in the Food Supply Chain Safe
04-15-2020Recorded Webinar: Navigating Financial Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis on Veterinary Medicine in Canada
04-15-2020Animal Welfare During a Pandemic: Drs. Scott Weese & Ian Sandler discuss the Health & Well-Being of Pets, & how Veterinary Services are Adapting to the Ever-Evolving Pandemic
04-14-2020SARS-CoV-2 in animals: To test or not to test
04-14-2020SARS-CoV-2 and a canine origin? Seems unlikely
04-14-2020COVID-19 Recorded Webinar: What is Veterinary Telemedicine? A Q&A Session
04-09-2020COVID-19: Work Refusal
04-09-2020Ward & Uptigrove PPT: Navigating the Financial Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis
04-09-2020CVMA National Issues Committee Member, Dr. Ian Sandler speaks to 580 CFRA about COVID-19 in animals.
04-09-2020COVID-19 Breakeven Fixed Costs Excel Sheet
04-09-2020COVID-19: Preventative Measures List
04-09-20208 Domains of Well-Being ... COVID-19 Style!
04-09-2020Dermatology Practice and Social Distancing
04-09-2020COVID-19: Coronavirus Memo for Workers
04-09-2020COVID-19: Business Contingency Plan
04-09-2020AVMA - COVID-19 Social Tools
04-09-2020COVID-19: Social Distancing - Poster
04-09-2020Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS–coronavirus 2
04-09-2020COVID-19: Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers - Excel Workbook
04-09-20202nd SARS-Cov-2 Positive Dog in Hong Kong: Update
04-09-2020COVID-19: What Employers Need to Consider
04-08-2020Recorded Webinar: Staying Psychologically Safe in the face of COVID-19
04-08-2020Another SARS-CoV-2 Experimental Study
04-08-2020Preventing and Responding to COVID-19 in Meat Slaughter and Processing Establishments
04-08-2020Merck Manuals COVID-19 Information and Resources
04-08-2020New COVID Council Webinar featuring Dr. Scott Weese - April 9
04-07-2020CAHI COVID-19 Response Information Sharing Webinar with CVMA Updates - April 9, 2020
04-07-2020Routine mask use in vet clinics?
04-07-2020SARS-CoV-2 in cats: Wuhan, China
04-07-2020Telemedicine Guidance Document | Economics and Telemedicine Webinars Reminder
04-06-2020CVMA COVID-19 Webinar: What is Veterinary Telemedicine? A Q&A Session - April 8, 2020
04-06-2020COVID-19 Webinar: Information for Canadian Animal Shelters
04-06-2020Dr. Ian Sandler, member of the CVMA's National Issues Committee, speaks to Global News Radio about COVID-19 and your pets
04-06-2020CVMA Economics Webinar: Navigating the Financial Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis on Vet Medicine - April 8, 2020
04-06-2020CVMA Veterinary Telemedicine Guidelines
04-03-2020PSA: Veterinarians are Here for You during the COVID-19 Pandemic
04-02-2020Coronavirus Can Infect Cats — Dogs, Not So Much
04-02-2020Pets of People With COVID-19: What To Do If The Owner Can’t Care For Them?
04-02-2020Information Update on Veterinary Antimicrobial Sales Reporting for the Year 2019 - from the Veterinary Drugs Directorate
04-02-2020Presentation - COVID-19 Legal Perspectives: Workplace Issues
04-02-2020Recorded Webinar - COVID-19 Legal Perspectives: Workplace Issues
04-01-2020Recording Available: COVID-19 in Veterinary and Animal Group Settings: Protecting People and Animals
04-01-2020SARS-CoV-2 in Dogs, Cats and Ferrets ... A New Experimental Study
04-01-2020In Times When Social Distancing is Required the CVMA WebStore – is Here to Support You
03-31-2020NEW! CVMA: COVID-19 and Animals - FAQs for Veterinarians
03-31-2020Social Distancing and Vet Clinics: A Video
03-31-2020Preventing and Responding to COVID-19 in Meat Slaughter and Processing Establishments
03-31-2020World Health Organization: COVID-19 Update 20
03-31-2020Canine Coronavirus Disease - VCA
03-30-2020COVID-19 and Ferrets
03-30-2020Social Distancing WITHIN Veterinary Clinics
03-27-2020Mental Health Webinar: Staying Psychologically Safe in the Face of COVID-19
03-27-2020British Veterinary Association: Guidance for Veterinary Practices in Assessing Emergency and Urgent Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic
03-26-2020Mobile Vets and COVID-19
03-26-2020Update: PHAC Information on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
03-25-2020The CFIA is prioritizing critical activities during COVID-19 pandemic
03-25-2020Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages in veterinary medicine
03-25-2020AAHA’s COVID-19 Response
03-25-2020VIN COVID-19 Information Center
03-25-2020Canadian Council on Animal Care - Updates Concerning COVID-19
03-25-2020Advice for Companion Animal Practitioners During the COVID-19 Outbreak
03-24-2020CVMA: COVID-19 - Guidelines for Elective Services and Social Distancing
03-24-2020The OIE Responds to Questions on COVID-19
03-23-2020CALAM/ACMAL National Teleconference: COVID-19 - March 25, 2020
03-23-2020CVMA: COVID-19 - NEW! Government of Canada Information including Guidance on Humans and Animals, and Food
03-23-2020In an effort to assist with some new business challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CVMA in partnership with HRdownloads is here to support you
03-22-2020COVID-19: Ventilators for Use in Human Medicine?
03-22-2020Wanted: Hydrogen peroxide and glycerol
03-21-2020Veterinary Clinics Named Essential Service in PEI
03-21-2020COVID-19 Information for California Veterinarians
03-21-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) - Information for industry
03-20-2020Advice for pet owners for visiting your vet during the COVID-19 outbreak
03-20-2020Global Veterinary Surgery: ‘No evidence that COVID-19 can be contracted from pets’
03-20-2020COVID-19: What we don’t know (but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something)
03-19-2020Flattening the curve: How clinics are helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19
03-19-2020COVID-19 update: Another positive dog
03-19-20207 everyday ways to adapt veterinary practice during the pandemic
03-19-2020CVMA: Preventive Tips for Managing COVID-19 in the Clinic
03-19-2020Health Canada Application and Notification Form for Exceptional Release of Disinfectant and Sanitizing Products
03-19-2020How to Prepare Your Farm for COVID-19
03-19-2020NAVC - The Coronavirus and Pets
03-18-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Awareness resources
03-18-2020Social distancing and veterinary medicine: Are they compatible?
03-18-2020ABVMA: Veterinary Care for your Animals – COVID-19 Information
03-18-2020College of Veterinarians of Ontario Temporarily Relaxes Certain Regulations on Prescribing and Dispensing During Public Health Emergency
03-18-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Resources for Canadian businesses
03-18-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): For health professionals
03-18-2020Bulletin for ABVMA Members – COVID-19
03-18-2020Routine Practices and Additional Precautions for Preventing the Transmission of Infection in Healthcare Settings
03-18-2020OIE and WVA: COVID-19 and Veterinary Activities Designated as Essential
03-18-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Guidance documents
03-17-2020LifeLearn’s Complimentary COVID-19 Response Kit
03-17-2020NEWStat: Special COVID-19 Edition
03-17-2020Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Owner Contact Guidelines
03-13-2020WHO Information Network for Epidemics: COVID-19 Update 16