Animal health surveillance is essential for protecting public health, enhancing access to international markets for animals and their products, and improving animal health, production and welfare. It is of vital importance for protecting and improving the livelihoods of diverse groups of livestock keepers and stakeholders in livestock value chains. Surveillance systems consist of sets of complementary components which generate information to inform risk assessment, decision-making and policy formulation for both national programmes and international trade. Participatory approaches have the potential to add value to surveillance systems by enhancing their performance, especially their sensitivity and timeliness, and encouraging the inclusion of marginalised groups. This paper summarises key considerations in the assessment and design of animal health surveillance and discusses how participatory approaches can be integrated into comprehensive surveillance systems, leading to a more effective overall outcome for both domestic and international purposes.