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Information for Animal Owners seeking Veterinary Services

Veterinary services have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. You should contact your veterinarian for information on how you can safely access veterinary care for your pets and animals.

During all steps of the Roadmap to Reopen, the province indicates that veterinary services may continue. Permitted services include veterinary services and other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, research facilities, groomers, pet sitters, pet walkers, and trainers (including for service animals).

Further details are available from the Province of Ontario. 

  • ​Veterinary clinics are engaging in public health measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19. You should contact your clinic for information on how to access their services at this time.
  • If you don’t have a veterinarian, and require veterinary services for your animal, please make use of the College’s Find a Veterinarian search tool.

Telemedicine is an option

Veterinarians are taking additional measures during this time to provide services safely. Veterinarians may use telemedicine to consult with clients and to manage both triage and non-urgent cases, including prescribing medication if needed. Again, trust your veterinarian’s judgment on the services they can safely provide at this time.

What if my regular veterinary clinic is closed?

If your veterinarian needs to close temporarily due to illness, staffing shortages or other circumstances, information for clients on how to access veterinary care and medical record information may be available on a phone message, signage on the door, website, or electronic notice.  These provisions are required through the veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

If you need veterinary services but you do not have a regular veterinarian

If you do not have a veterinarian, please visit the College’s Find a Veterinarian search tool, found on the College’s website. You can search for a veterinarian in your area who offers the services you seek. Information on the veterinarian’s licence status and history and contact information is also available. You will need to contact the veterinary facility to determine what services are being offered at this time.

What services are veterinarians allowed to provide during the pandemic, and how is this decided?

Veterinary services have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. You should contact your veterinarian for information on how you can safely access veterinary care for your pets and animals.

Veterinarians are taking additional measures during this time to provide services safely. Your veterinarian may be making use of telemedicine to consult with clients; completing patient triage outside of the clinic or hospital; and postponing some procedures. Control measures recommended by public health authorities are intended to eliminate or minimize exposure to COVID-19; trust your veterinarian’s judgment on the services they can safely provide.

If you are concerned a veterinarian is not engaging in public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Veterinarians are expected to follow public health advice, recommendations and instructions to protect the health and safety of their clients, patients and staff at all times. In Ontario, we are being urged to practice social distancing, engage in public health measures, and isolate ourselves for 14 days after returning from international travel. If you are concerned that veterinary professionals are not following this guidance, please contact the College.

COVID-19 and your animals

The spread of COVID-19 is as a result of human to human transmission. There's no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the ongoing spread of this disease. Animals and COVID-19 is an area that continues to be studied by scientists.

Can my pet get COVID-19 or transfer the disease to other people in my household?

The current spread of COVID-19 is as a result of human to human transmission. However, there have been reports to indicate that COVID-19 is also being transmitted from humans to animals, with recent media reports indicating dogs, a tiger and cats have been infected. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there is no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. Although data is still limited, to date, there have been no reports of livestock being infected or sick with COVID-19 virus anywhere.

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:

  • follow the recommendations in the previous section regarding contact and hygiene
  • clean and disinfect surfaces frequently that have high animal contact
  • 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.

The Worms & Germs Blog, an educational website from the Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, provides extensive information on COVID-19, including information on the potential animal aspects of COVID-19.

Precautionary measures around animals

As a precautionary measure, public health authorities recommend that people with COVID-19 symptoms or those who are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, should follow similar recommendations around animals, as they would around other people in these circumstances:

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet or other animal:

  • avoid close contact with them

  • practise good cough etiquette

  • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals

  • always wash your hands before touching or feeding them

  • limit your animal's contact with other people and animals

Pets contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you are feeling well (no symptoms of COVID-19) and are not self-isolating because of COVID-19 illness, taking walks with your dog and/or spending other time with your pet can contribute to keeping both you and your pet healthy.

Precautionary measure for livestock producers

There have not been any reports of livestock being infected by COVID-19 anywhere to date. However, livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always. This includes limiting visitors or workers who may have travelled abroad in the last 14 days, are ill, or who have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case in the last 14 days. 

Producers are encouraged to consult the following resources for more information on farm disease prevention:

These measures are recommended as a precaution, and are basic practices to prevent transmission of diseases between humans and animals. If you have concerns, seek professional advice from your veterinarian or a public health professional who can help to answer your questions.

For more information:

Worms and Germs Blog – For further information on risks you may wish to keep in mind regarding your pets and the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Worms and Germs Blog, published by the University of Guelph’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses.

Ontario Animal Health Network – The Ontario Animal Health Network has published a guide about caring for your horse during a pandemic to assist horse owners with developing a plan for their horse’s care if they become ill or need to self-isolate.

Public Health Ontario - A COVID-19 fact sheet providing guidance on how to care for pets and other animals, How to care for pets and other animals.