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What Is a Pet Health Certificate for Dogs & Cats?

What is a pet health certificate?

Whether you are booking a flight with your dog or considering taking a road trip with your cat, you might need to consider acquiring a pet health certificate. In many travel scenarios, a pet health certificate is a requirement in order for you and your pet to enter a new location. Without this certificate, you might be denied boarding on a plane or entrance to another state.

What is a pet health certificate for dogs and cats? A pet health certificate for dogs and cats is an official document from a licensed, accredited veterinarian that certifies the health of your pet. Also called a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) or a pet travel certificate, this documentation ensures that pets traveling between locations do not spread infectious illnesses.

The certificate indicates that your pet is disease-free and includes other important details about your pet. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about pet health certificates covering the following important topics:

  1. What is a health certificate for a cat? 
  2. What is a health certificate for a dog? 
  3. When do you need a pet health certificate? 
  4. How do I get a pet health certificate? 

What Is Included in a Health Certificate for a Cat?

If you are a feline parent, you might wonder, what is a health certificate for a cat? A health certificate for a cat is an official document that a veterinarian issues indicating that your cat is disease-free and up to date on important vaccines and pest preventions.

Your vet will examine your cat and include the following on your cat’s health certificate:

  • The current health of your cat: The document will certify that upon examination, your cat is not showing any signs of infectious disease.
  • Your cat’s vaccination records: Usually, the date of your cat’s most recent rabies vaccination will be included.
  • Information about your cat: The document will include the age, size, and gender of your cat.
  • Microchip/contact info: Your contact information will be included on the certificate.

What Is Included in a Health Certificate for a Dog?

If you plan to travel with a dog, you will want to know the answer to the question, “What is a dog health certificate?” A dog health certificate is an official document issued by an accredited veterinarian. It indicates that your dog is safe to travel without the risk of spreading disease.

Included on your dog’s health certificate will be the following information

  • The current health of your dog: Your veterinarian will indicate that at the time of examination, your dog was not showing any signs of infectious disease.
  • Your dog’s vaccination records: A dog health certificate will usually contain the dates of your dog’s last rabies and distemper vaccination.
  • Information about your dog: The document will include the age, size, breed, and gender of your dog.
  • Microchip/contact info: Your contact information will be included on the certificate, along with your pet’s name.

When Do I Need a Pet Health Certificate?

When planning a trip with your furry family member, you might not be certain whether your vacation requires a trip to the vet. Depending on how you plan to travel, the following will help you determine whether or not this certificate is a must.

When Flying:

If you are planning to bring along your dog or cat on a flight, you will need a health certificate. Almost all commercial airlines require a health certificate, whether you are bringing your pet into the cabin or transporting it via cargo.

When Traveling by Train:

In the United States, most trains do not allow pets on board. However, if you will be traveling with a service animal, you may need a health certificate to travel by train.

When Traveling by Car:

If you are planning a road trip, it is easy to assume that all you need to do is pack up your dog or cat and hit the open road. However, depending on the states you will be visiting, you might need a certificate before crossing state lines. To determine whether the area you are traveling to requires a pet health certificate, check the USDA guidelines for taking a pet from one U.S. state/territory to another U.S. state/territory.

Additionally, if you plan to cross into another country during your travels, you will need to adhere to country-specific requirements. Be sure to check local regulations before your trip, as these requirements vary by country.

How Do I Get a Pet Health Certificate?

If you are planning a trip and determine that you do indeed need a vet health certificate for your pet, you can obtain one in your local area by visiting an accredited, licensed vet that offers this service.

Keep in mind that depending on where you plan to travel, you might need to obtain this certificate within a specific period of time leading up to your trip. For example, some states require that you receive a pet health certificate 10 days before traveling into the state. Additionally, there may be specific requirements regarding how long it has been since your pet was vaccinated against rabies. Your veterinarian can help you navigate specific regulations and rules, but it is always best to reach out well before your trip.

By doing your research and making sure to schedule a visit to the vet before your next trip, you can help ensure that you are following local regulations and keeping your pet healthy. In many cases, during your travels, your pet may be exposed to new pests and illnesses. Always ask your vet about the areas you plan to visit to make sure that your pet is up-to-date on preventive care, regardless of whether a health certificate is required for your travels.

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