Photo: Caitlin Taylor.

Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative for Western Canada

We have officially launched a western Canadian Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative (CASI), and we would greatly appreciate your participation!

While 50 to 60 per cent of urban households in Canada contain at least one companion animal — animals that share our homes, our food and water as well as our beds — there is currently no active surveillance of this population.

Cases that you see at your veterinary clinic reflect important changes in companion animal diseases and/or zoonotic diseases — pathogens that haven’t been consistently monitored through previous surveillance programs in animal health.

Why is this initiative important? 

This initiative will provide vital baseline information for the veterinary profession. For example, are diseases occurring in your region for which you need to initiate new prevention measures? Real-time surveillance of selected companion animal diseases will provide baseline information upon which to evaluate changes over time — specifically those driven by external forces (such as climate-driven diseases or even social contexts).

That’s why we have recently launched the new Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative (CASI) in Western Canada.

Who can participate? 

This initiative is open to all veterinary clinics and veterinarians who provide service to companion animals (dogs specifically) in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). 

What's in it for me? 

We recognize the efforts of veterinarians contributing to this initiative and hope that providing the information back in the form of short quarterly updates, disease alerts and longer annual reports will provide regionally important indicators of risks to your patients.

Additionally, you will find disease specific information to share with your clients through the surveillance initiative’s secure website.

How do I become part of this initiative? 

It only takes a few minutes to register with the Western Canadian Animal Health Network (WeCAHN) so you can access the Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative’s secure website. Click here to JOIN US on the WeCAHN portal.

Once you register, you will be asked to complete a demographic survey about your clinic for background on the representativeness of the surveillance network. Your clinic information will be stored separately from any survey data that you provide, which will be stored with only a clinic identifier. Your clinic information will never be used publicly, with survey information reported on a regional basis only.

What do I need to do?

Once registered, you or a clinic staff member can login to CASI WeCAHN to access everything pertaining to the initiative. We will ask you (or your clinic staff) to complete a survey every three months (four times per year) through a link to the survey provided on the secure site.

The survey will focus on specific syndromes and diseases of interest. These areas were selected in the project's initial phase through a scoping of the literature and consultation with animal and public health stakeholders.

Project update: Defining the Diseases of Interest

The first portion of the project has been completed and accepted for publication in the Canadian Veterinary Journal. Click the following links to view the appendices that list all pathogens identified in dogs:

The documents specifically note zoonotic pathogens that have occurred in Canada and where the dog plays a role in understanding disease occurrence. Appendix A was narrowed down to the top five pathogen groups of interest for inclusion into the surveillance initiative.

Access to infographics, reports and other communications that result from the surveillance initiative will be accessible through the online secure web portal.

Funding and research project information

This study is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Infectious Disease and Climate Change Program. This research project has been approved on ethical grounds by the University of Saskatchewan Behavioural Research Ethics Board (Beh 2787). Any questions about your rights as a participant may be addressed to that committee through the USask Research Ethics Office (; 306-966-2975 or toll-free 1-888-966-2975).

If you choose to participate in this initiative, you consent to the use of the data for scientific purposes and possibly policy/decision-making purposes. However, you are free to withdraw from the surveillance initiative at any time. This initiative is intended to run long term, so if you withdraw, your clinic information and past survey data will be maintained but no further surveys will be collected after withdrawal.

Want more information about CASI?

For more information or have questions, contact Dr. Tasha Epp (

For more background information on surveillance, click here to watch an informative webinar called “Cross-Canada Check in on Companion Animal Surveillance.” Skip to 33:00 for the start of the description of the surveillance initiative (about 10 minutes in length).