COVID-19 and Animal Health

March 27, 2020

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. To date, CAHI, working with its members and global affiliates, has not identified any shortages, disruptions or delays in production for animal health products in relation to COVID-19.  CAHI continues to request that its members notify the office should a disruption be identified and/or anticipated.

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.

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 will be crucial to mitigating the negative effects of potentially prolonged government mandated social distancing measures especially for Canada’s older, more vulnerable populations. 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 social 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. As of today’s date, CAHI is still hoping to be able to move ahead with the 2020 Annual Convention in Blue Mountain, Ontario from June 1-3, 2020, but this approach will continue to be assessed as the anticipated duration of public health measures to control COVID-19 become clearer in the coming weeks.

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.

Contact: Colleen McElwain, Programs Director
Canadian Animal Health Institute
(519) 763-7777

Essential Businesses

On March 23rd, 2020 both the provinces of Ontario and Quebec announced the closure of all non-essential businesses effective March 25th. CAHI member businesses are not impacted by these closures as they are essential for animal health and welfare.  Learn more about how Animal Health is Essential.


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.