Traveling with Your Pet

Many people take their dogs and cats with them when they travel on vacation. In order to limit the spread of disease, there are laws that pet owners are required to follow when they travel. Do you know what documents you need to travel with your pet? Here are answers to some of the most common questions. This information only pertains to traveling with dogs and cats.

  1. What documents do I need to travel to Canada with my pet? If you are traveling by car, proof of current Rabies vaccination is all that is needed to travel to Canada. A signed Rabies Vaccination Certificate is required for all pets over 3 months of age. If you are traveling by air, contact the airline to determine if you also need a health certificate (certificate of veterinary inspection). Transport your pet food in it's original packaging in order to prevent confiscation of your pet's food.
  2. I am driving across the US to visit relatives, what paperwork do I need? All dogs that are traveling across state lines need a signed Rabies Vaccination Certificate. Cats may not need a rabies certificate but it is recommended. Each state has its own set of requirements so please consult the APHIS Pet Travel website to make sure you know what is needed.
  3. What documents do I need to fly with my pet? Most airlines require proof of Rabies vaccination and a Health Certificate for your pet. In most cases, the health certificate must be completed no more than 7-10 days before your departure. Some airlines have breed restrictions and do not allow short-nosed pets (eg. Bulldog) to be placed in the cargo hold because they can die from respiratory stress. Many airlines also have weather requirements for placing pets in the cargo hold.
  4. Can my pet travel internationally with me? In most cases, the answer is yes. International travel requires more planning than interstate travel. Each country has its own set of requirements for vaccination, parasite prevention, and diagnostic testing. Many countries have their own health certificates that may or may not need to be endorsed by a USDA veterinarian. If you are planning on traveling internationally with your pet, please consult the APHIS Pet Travel website as well as the website for the country of destination. Failing to complete the necessary requirements could result in a lengthy quarantine for your pet.
  5. I am moving/traveling to Hawaii. How much time in advance do I need to start the paperwork process? Hawaii is Rabies free and as a result, taking a dog or cat to Hawaii is a lengthy process. I recommend giving yourself 6 months and setting aside approximately $500 to complete all of the requirements. In order to avoid quarantine, your pet must have had at least 2 Rabies vaccines in its lifetime, be current on Rabies, have a satisfactory Rabies titer, and undergo a 120-day waiting period after submission of the Rabies titer. All pets must be microchipped before the Rabies titer is submitted and treated for external parasites prior to travel. If you are planning on traveling to Hawaii with your pet, consult the Hawaii 5-day or Less Checklist for a full list of requirements.
  6. I adopted a pet while I was traveling internationally. Can I bring them back to the US? In most cases, the answer is yes. Please check with your state of destination and the CDC to determine the requirements. APHIS veterinary services has additional requirements for pets that are imported from countries affected by specific diseases such as screwworm and Foot and Mouth Disease.
  7. My pet was in for an exam last month and now I need a health certificate. Does my pet need another exam? Yes. Pets must be examined at the time the health certificate is signed. The health certificate is usually considered valid for 10-30 days. Please check with the airline or state of destination to determine how long a health certificate is valid.
  8. Can any veterinarian write a health certificate for my pet? No. Only USDA accredited veterinarians can write health certificates. At Four Paws, Dr. Prince is the only accredited veterinarian. That means that Dr. Prince must be the one to examine your pet. It is illegal to write a health certificate without personally examining the pet in the required time frame.
  9. Does my dog need parasite preventatives when I travel? Yes. Depending on the destination, we may recommend flea and tick preventatives as well as heart worm preventatives. It is important to keep a travel log for your pet in case your pet becomes sick when they return home. Some diseases, such as Valley Fever, are only found in certain areas of the United States. Without an accurate travel history, these diseases could be overlooked as a cause of your pet's illness.

I hope that this helps answer any questions you may have about traveling with your dog or cat. If you are traveling internationally or to Hawaii, please schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Prince to discuss the necessary requirements and keep your travel plans on track!