A survey of national animal influenza surveillance programmes was conducted to assess the current capacity to detect influenza viruses with zoonotic potential in animals (i.e. those influenza viruses that can be naturally transmitted between animals and humans) at regional and global levels. Information on 587 animal influenza surveillance system components was collected for 99 countries from Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs) (n = 94) and published literature. Less than 1% (n = 4) of these components were specifically aimed at detecting influenza viruses with pandemic potential in animals (i.e. those influenza viruses that are capable of causing epidemic spread in human populations over large geographical regions or worldwide), which would have zoonotic potential as a prerequisite. Those countries that sought to detect influenza viruses with pandemic potential searched for such viruses exclusively in domestic pigs. This work shows the global need for increasing surveillance that targets potentially zoonotic influenza viruses in relevant animal species.