Coronavirus (COVID-19) -
CVMA Member Advisory
Dear CVMA members,

We have entered an unprecedented time in our country’s history, as every Canadian, and citizens around the world, are on high alert due to COVID-19. Veterinary professionals are concerned about their team’s health and clients have questions about their pets' health, as well as their own.

The CVMA wants to reassure members that their national association, in coordination with provincial veterinary medical associations and regulatory bodies, is in continuous connect with federal agencies, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), to bring veterinarians the most current information to protect their clients, teams, and families. 

Various levels of government are considering a mandatory shutdown of all “non-essential” services to limit community spread of the disease. The CVMA holds that veterinary practices provide “ essential ” services to Canadians given that veterinary medicine is critical for public health, agri-food safety, pharmaceutical stewardship, and animal health and welfare. We have shared our view with government authorities.

The CVMA is also aware of the current  shortage of Personal Protective Equipment  (PPE) such as surgical masks and gloves in veterinary practices. CVMA is in discussions with various government bodies regarding this issue and will inform you as information becomes available. In the meantime, please refer to advice provided by Dr. Scott Weese, Chief of Infection Control at the Ontario Veterinary College, in his Worms and Germs blog post . Please also keep in mind regulations set forth by your provincial regulatory body.

We would also like to make you aware of a COVID-19 Informational Webinar featuring Dr. Scott Weese and Dr. Jason Stull scheduled for March 19, 2020 at 2 p.m. EST . This talk will provide a brief summary of the current COVID-19 status in people and animals, along with specific suggestions for protecting the health of people and animals in veterinary and animal care group settings. Please find more information and register here .

Please refer to the COVID-19 Clinic Checklist (adopted from the Ontario Veterinary Medication Association) below for clinic specific protocols. Additional information can be found on OVMA’s Coronavirus FAQ web page, which is constantly updated.

Animals in Canada
Information on COVID-19 and Animals in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada’s website. Please consult this website frequently as information will be updated as it becomes available.

The following excerpt is from the above GoC source (last accessed March 16, 2020).

There is currently no evidence to suggest this virus is circulating in animals in Canada.

It is possible that some types of animals can be infected with COVID-19, but there is no evidence that pets or other animals can spread the virus. There are still many unknowns about COVID-19 and this is an area that remains to be studied and understood.

Until we know more, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet or other animal:
  • avoid close contact with them
  • do not snuggle or kiss them, or let them lick you, sit on your lap, or sleep in your bed
  • practise good cough etiquette
  • avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
  • have another member of your household care for your animals - if this is not possible, always wash your hands before touching or feeding them
  • limit your animal's contact with other people and animals - this may mean keeping them indoors

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 to, or been in contact with, someone from an affected area. Producers are encouraged to consult the following resources for more information on-farm disease prevention:

These recommendations will be updated as more information becomes available.

Please consult the end of this email for information on Animals In or From Other Countries .

Information During the COVID-19 Outbreak
The COVID-19 outbreak is resulting in swift and significant changes in all aspects of society. The CVMA will do its best to keep members up-to-date on the latest developments during the outbreak.

New information will be posted under the News & Events section of the CVMA homepage as it becomes available. The Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 webpage also has up-to-date, useful information for monitoring your local community’s outbreak status and recommendations based on geographical location. You may also wish to consult the American Veterinary Medicals Association’s (AVMA) COVID-19 web page for further information. 

The CVMA is a member of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). Please consult  Advice for WSAVA Members for additional information and resources.

The CVMA stands in solidarity with all CVMA members, veterinary professionals, human healthcare workers, and all Canadians during this difficult time. Please protect your own health and practice the COVID-19 prevention and containment directives as per the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Dr. Melanie Hicks
CVMA President
COVID-19 Clinic Checklist

  • Review infection prevention and control best practices with all employees. An extensive list of measures to consider can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.
  • Establish a practice policy regarding when staff members should not to come to work and advise all staff of the policy. For example, if:
  1. they have recently travelled out-of-country (the Canadian government is requesting all such individuals self-isolate for 14 days).
  2. they are exhibiting any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing).
  3. they have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  4. they have a household member who is exhibiting symptoms of the virus and is awaiting testing/test results and are directed to stay home.
  • Review the practice’s employee sick leave policy, amend as appropriate in recognition of the current situation, and ensure staff are aware of the policy.
  • Ensure all staff contact information, as well as emergency contact information, is up-to-date in case the practice must close on short notice.
  • Discuss contingency plans with staff who have children in daycare centres that may be closed, or who have children affected by school closures.
  • Make staff aware of mental health and other support services available through your practice’s care plan. You can also refer employees to CVMA’s Who Ya’ Gonna Call? Mental Health Resource List under the Practice & Economics tab of Please consult the CVMA’s Veterinarian Health and Wellness Resources for additional information.
***Important Note: An employer should not send an employee home or ask them not to work because of concerns over COVID-19 unless the concerns are reasonable and consistent with the most recent advice from medical and public health officials.
Clients and Patients
  • Advise clients how the clinic is keeping clients and patients safe (i.e. extra disinfecting of surfaces, implementing social distancing protocols, etc.) via email and/or text messaging, the practice’s social media channels, as well as outside and in-clinic signage.
  • Ask clients if they have recently been outside of Canada or are currently exhibiting any respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19 when booking appointments. If so, the practice may wish to use this Patient Screening Pathways Chart developed by Dr. Scott Weese to determine the most appropriate course of action.
  • Ask clients to advise the practice if they have recently travelled outside of Canada or are exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms, so appropriate precautions can be taken, when sending email or text appointment reminders. Also ask clients to refrain from bringing other family members/people with them for their appointment.
  • Offer hand sanitizer to clients and sanitize merchant card machines as often as practical.

  • Encourage social distancing in-clinic as much as possible. Move waiting room chairs further apart, avoid shaking hands and, to the extent possible, instruct staff to maintain a two-metre (six feet) distance from clients.
  • Determine the practice’s protocol for dealing with clients/patients arriving with a perceived risk of COVID-19. The Ontario Veterinary College has such a protocol.
  • Consider establishing a policy on pet food sales to reduce hoarding (e.g. limiting clients to a two-month supply of food per pet).
  • Consider offering clients the ability to conduct certain types of appointments virtually by text, phone, or videoconference where possible and as allowed by your provincial regulatory body.
  • Consider how the practice will handle clients in isolation or quarantine, or who are an immunocompromised, if their pets need medical attention. Options include telemedicine, making arrangements for someone else to bring in the pet, and offering curbside service.
Practice Closing Contingency Planning
Your practice must have a contingency plan in case it is no longer able to provide services to clients for a period of time, either due to a mandatory shutdown or a need to quarantine practice staff due to virus exposure.

Every practice’s plan will be different, but should include:
  • A plan outlining and how staff would be compensated during a practice shutdown.
  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada may be an applicable reference.
  • A communication strategy for reaching staff and clients should there be a disruption in service.
  • An arrangement with another practice willing to service your clients while the practice is closed. It is advisable to make such arrangements with more than one practice as multiple practices may be affected.
  • Pre-scripting a “practice is closed” auto-attendant message for the practice’s phone system and ensuring the message can be changed remotely (if possible) if the practice must close on short notice.
  • Arranging a means of accessing patient medical records remotely and making those records available to other practices as needed. Ask your practice management software provider for assistance if your practice doesn’t currently possess that capability.
  • A plan for stopping mail and other deliveries to the practice.
  • Ensure appropriate signage is posted on practice doors, etc. regarding the closure.
  • A plan to advise staff and clients when the practice re-opens.
You are receiving this message as a member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The CVMA is the national and international voice for Canada’s veterinarians, providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine.