Information for Animal Owners seeking Veterinary Services
The College of Veterinarians of Ontario recognizes that pet and animal owners are concerned about the potential implications of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the well-being of their animals. These are unusual and challenging times as we all work together to do what we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On May 19, 2020, the provincial government permitted the reopening of certain businesses, including veterinary services, in Stage 1 of its reopening plan. Businesses that provide veterinary services can begin providing regular veterinary appointments..
- Veterinary clinics will be engaging in public health measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19. You should contact the 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.
Contact your veterinarian before you go to the clinic
Your veterinary clinic can tell you what measures are in place if you are required to visit the clinic for veterinary care for your animal. Please contact your veterinary clinic directly if you have questions.
Veterinary facilities are expected to take steps to control the spread of infection. The College has asked veterinarians to adhere to public health measures to help protect themselves, their staff and their clients from spreading COVID-19.
Is it safe to take my pet to the veterinarian during COVID-19 pandemic?
The public is encouraged to be responsible and avoid exposing veterinarians, clinic staff, and veterinary clinics and hospitals to COVID-19. The College expects that veterinarians follow all public health recommendations and stay attentive to infection control and biosecurity protocols to safeguard employees and clients.
When you contact the clinic or your veterinarian, they can discuss your concerns about your animal’s health and determine whether your animal should be seen in person by a veterinarian.
Do not attend an appointment with your veterinarian if you are ill. Please ensure you engage in all public health measures (hand washing, social distancing, call before you visit, refrain from attending appointment if you are ill, etc.) to support the continued availability of safe veterinary services in Ontario.
Click here for the COVID-19 self-assessment link.
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 provide during the current public health emergency.
Your regular veterinary clinic may be 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 during this time of public health emergency.
What services are veterinarians allowed to provide during the pandemic, and how is this decided?
On May 19, 2020, the provincial government permitted the reopening of certain businesses, including veterinary services, in Stage 1 of its reopening plan. Businesses that provide veterinary services can begin providing regular veterinary appointments.
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. Again, trust your veterinarian’s judgment on the services they can provide during the current public health emergency.
If you are concerned a veterinarian is not engaging in public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Veterinarians are expected to use their professional judgment to protect the health and safety of their clients, patients and staff at all times. We are currently in a state of emergency in the Province of Ontario and 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 current spread of COVID-19 is as a result of human to human transmission. According to the OIE, 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.
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.
Scientists are still trying to understand if and how COVID-19 affects animals. This is an area that continues to be studied. As a precautionary measure, it is recommended 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:
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.