Animals and COVID-19

The virus that causes COVID-19 is different than other coronaviruses that affect domestic animals. Learn how to keep pets and livestock, as well as yourself, safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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:

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:

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:

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:

These measures are:

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:

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.

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