COVID-19 Animals in Canada

Animals in Canada

Updated July 24, 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

There is currently limited information on animals and COVID-19, especially on whether an animal can spread the virus if they become infected. We are learning more all the time and this information may change depending on the evidence. It is important to remember that in most circumstances, people are infecting animals (human-to-animal transmission), and animals are not the source of the virus for people.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there have not been any reports of pets spreading COVID-19 to people. However, reports from the Netherlands suggest that a small number of workers on infected mink farms may have been infected by the mink. This is an area that continues to be studied.

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to track and analyze research and case reports from around the world on COVID-19 and animals.

Some animals may get sick and show signs such as:

  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea

This table shows what we currently know about which animals can get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and which species may be able to infect humans.

Exposure of Humans or Animals to SARS-CoV-2 from Wild, Livestock, Companion and Aquatic animals

Pets and COVID-19

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.

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.

How to keep your pets safe

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
  • 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)
    • 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

Caring for exposed animals

Pets aren’t thought to play 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 animal’s 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 in the home or facility.

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 are concerned about their health, contact your veterinarian.

Livestock or other farmed animals and COVID-19

To date, there have been no reports of livestock (such as cows, pigs, goats or sheep) being infected or getting sick with COVID-19. There have been several reports of farmed mink in the Netherlands being infected and getting sick with COVID-19 from workers on the farm.

Early information from a small number of studies suggests pigs, chickens and ducks are not susceptible to the virus. The susceptibility of other livestock or farmed animals is currently unknown. This is an area that continues to be studied and more information is anticipated.

How to protect your livestock or other farmed animals

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 current public health recommendations for farming and agricultural settings.

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

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 between people 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.

Importing animals 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. 

There are currently no restrictions on animal importation in Canada related to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is recommended, though, that individuals, rescue organizations and adoptive families postpone importing animals at this time. Travel restrictions, limited flights, and some limitations on access to routine veterinary care may all have a negative impact on the health and welfare of imported animals at this time.

Prior to importing an animal, consider the current outbreak situation at the animal’s origin and destination. This can help you determine if any additional travel restrictions are in place (for people or animals).

Animals imported from other countries can carry a variety of diseases that we don’t have in Canada. These diseases can spread to other animals and between animals and people. It is always a good idea to have a veterinarian examine a recently imported animal. The veterinarian can advise you on appropriate treatments and vaccinations that will keep the animal, other animals, and your family healthy.

It is important to note that a port of entry is not an acceptable location to transfer the possession of an animal. Any transfer must be done at a location other than the port of entry or Canadian Border Services Agency office.

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 (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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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)
03-19-2020How to Prepare Your Farm for COVID-19
03-19-20207 everyday ways to adapt veterinary practice during the pandemic
03-19-2020COVID-19 update: Another positive dog
03-19-2020Flattening the curve: How clinics are helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19
03-19-2020NAVC - The Coronavirus and Pets
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
03-18-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Awareness resources
03-18-2020ABVMA: Veterinary Care for your Animals – COVID-19 Information
03-18-2020Social distancing and veterinary medicine: Are they compatible?
03-18-2020Routine Practices and Additional Precautions for Preventing the Transmission of Infection in Healthcare Settings
03-18-2020Bulletin for ABVMA Members – COVID-19
03-18-2020Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): For health professionals
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
03-18-2020OIE 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