As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt across Canada and the world, the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) and its members are actively monitoring this ever-changing situation and its potential impacts on veterinary medicine. The Government of Canada has significantly limited international travel into Canada; however, these restrictions do not apply to cross-border trade or commerce. CAHI is working with its members and global affiliates to monitor any shortages, disruptions or delays in production for animal health products in relation to COVID-19, and reminds all members to notify the office as soon as possible should a disruption be identified and/or anticipated.
CAHI urges Health Canada and other regulatory authorities to continue to recognize the essential role of animal health products in maintaining healthy communities, and to continue to support their commercial movement across borders as restrictions are implemented and government resources are re-allocated to address COVID-19. This will strengthen our global food system and support Canadian families by ensuring that the tools veterinarians need to support animal health remain available.
The health and safety of CAHI members, their staff, association staff and our stakeholders is of primary importance to us, and we are supportive of the physical distancing measures that have been put in place by Canadian governments. As the situation evolves, CAHI will continue to reassess the appropriateness of in-person meetings and is committed to offering remote participation options. To ensure continued service delivery to our membership, CAHI staff will remain fully accessible by telephone and email.
In order to further share information about COVID-19 in an animal health context, CAHI has created this webpage where links to important information for our sector will be shared. CAHI members are encouraged to check this page regularly and to continually monitor email for important messages from our regulators as well.
We're doing our part
Click on the photo below to learn more about how we are supporting efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, to help guide our interactions with clients and animal owners, the CAHI has created a voluntary industry guidance document that sets out reasonable expectations, based on public health guidelines.
Industry Guidance Document
Summary of Recommendations
On April 2, 2020, Public Safety Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Government, published its Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This guidance was developed in consultation with Canadian provinces, territories and national unions and recognizes the health and welfare of animals as essential. Specifically included in this list:
- Workers including those employed in animal food (pet and animal feed processing facilities), feed, by-product and ingredient production, processing, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labour needed to harvest and produce our food supply domestically;
- Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; and
- Veterinarians, veterinary technicians and necessary support staff.
These essential services are consistent with those identified by all Canadian provinces and territories. CAHI member businesses are not impacted by COVID-19 related closures as their businesses are essential for animal health and welfare. Learn more about how Animal Health is Essential.
Animals and COVID-19
From Pets to Livestock, Veterinarians Keep Animals Safe
CAHI recognizes the important role animals play in our lives, both as companions and in the production of protein. In particular, the companionship offered by pets is crucial to mitigating the negative effects of potentially prolonged government mandated social distancing measures especially for Canada’s older, more vulnerable populations. According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, there currently is limited evidence that companion animals can be infected with COVID-19. The risk of transmission of the virus from pets to humans is negligible compared to the risk of transmission through direct human contact. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also state there is limited evidence to suggest that pets or livestock might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time.
According to the Government of Canada, as a precautionary measure if you have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, you should follow similar recommendations around animals, as you would around people:
- 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
Both the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have more useful resources about COVID-19 and animals.
Below is a list of sources with information on COVID-19, its impacts, transmission routes, precautions taken by the human and animal health industries, and measures being taken to contain its spread.