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Animals & Your Health

Animals bring many benefits to people’s lives, however, they can also be a source of diseases in people

There are many things to think about when coming into contact with pets, companion animals, farm animals, animals at petting zoos or wildlife, in order to keep both animals and people safe.  Diseases transmitted through animal contact are called zoonotic diseases. For more information about these type of diseases, see:

Pets and companion animals

Pets bring people companionship and can help keep us healthy by increasing opportunities for physical activity and decreasing stress. Working animals, such as guide and service dogs, have a very positive impact on people’s lives. 

However, having pets can sometimes pose health hazards to people. For example, it is common for dogs and cats to nuzzle and lick their owners, and many sleep in the same bed as their owners. Given the very close contact between pets and people, there can be many opportunities for infections to be transmitted between them. Preventing infection is especially important for certain groups, such as young children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people. 

Information about what to think about when getting various types of pet, how to take care of them while protecting your health, and diseases associated with pets:

There have been cases of COVID-19 in domestic pets such as dogs and cats that have been infected with the COVID-19 virus after close contact with an infected individual. The number of cases in domestic pets has remained very low and the virus primarily transmits from person to person.

There have been no reports of cases where household pets or livestock have transmitted the virus to people. There have been several reports of transmission of the COVID-19 virus from infected mink to humans that work with farmed mink. 

The virus that causes COVID-19 most likely originated from an animal source in China, however, it now spreads from person-to-person when there is direct contact and, with the exception of farmed mink, not from contact with pets or livestock.

How can I protect my pet if I am infected with COVID-19?
Individuals infected with COVID-19 should limit contact with their pets during their illness. The best option is to have another member of the household care for their animals.  If an infected person must care for animals, then they should wash their hands before and after interacting with their animals, their food and supplies. They should avoid close contact with their pet such as snuggling or letting them sleep in their bed. Restrict your animal’s contact with individuals outside your home until your illness has resolved.  If there is no one available to care for your animal (e.g. pet owner is hospitalized and does not have a family member to care for their pet), then arrange for temporary housing of your pet at an animal shelter. Shelters should take the necessary precautions when handling pets from COVID-19 positive households.

What should I do if my pet becomes ill and was around a person with COVID-19?
If your pet becomes ill after exposure to a person with COVID-19, and you require veterinary advice, call your veterinarian and let them know that your sick pet was exposed to a person with COVID-19. Your veterinarian will discuss with you how to manage the situation. Your pet should remain at home to minimize contact with other animals and people.  Dogs that may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus should be kept on a leash or within a private fenced area when taken outside for elimination activities, and kept away from other animals and people for 14 days after the start of your pet’s illness.

Is there a vaccination against COVID-19 that my pet can receive?
No. Currently, there are no vaccines against COVID-19 available for domestic pets. There is absolutely no evidence that vaccinating dogs with commercially available vaccines for other coronaviruses will provide cross-protection against COVID-19. 

Information on the role of pets in human disease, with downloadable documents in various languages, as well as information on specific zoonotic diseases 

Petting zoos and farm animals

For information on petting zoos and open farm visits, with downloadable documents in various languages, as well as information on specific zoonotic diseases, see:  


Like domestic animals, wildlife can be the source of diseases that can affect us. Usually these diseases are transmitted by parasites, such as ticks, or through contact with animal droppings. Rarely, humans can be injured by wild animals, although in most human-animal conflicts it is the wild animal which ends up suffering the most.

For detailed information wildlife health, including wildlife diseases (and the field guide Diseases you can get from wildlife: a field-guide for hunters, trappers, anglers and biologists), how to stay healthy around wildlife and how to report sick or dead animals, see:

For a quick reference on how to dispose of a dead bird, see:

SOURCE: Animals & Your Health ( )
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