Best friends make great travel companions. They don’t text while driving, they won’t try to change the radio station and they never complain. Well, rarely, at least.

If you’ve ever traveled with a furry friend before, you probably took a few simple steps to ensure a safe and secure trip; you packed a pet first aid kit, scouted out emergency vets near your destination, and protected your pet from any unexpected accidents or illnesses that might occur with Petplan pet insurance.

But did you pack your pet’s health documents?

Recently, an animal rescuer in Wisconsin was fined over $700 because the animal that she imported into Wisconsin did not have documentation from a veterinarian stating that the animal was free of disease and current on vaccinations.

What documents are required?

Unbeknownst to many pet parents, dogs and cats who cross state borders are required by the Department of Agriculture to meet certain entry requirements. While every state has different requirements for best friends crossing state borders, most states require one of two things, if not both: a pet health certificate, and a certificate stating that your pet is current on vaccinations, such as rabies.

A pet health certificate, or certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) as it is called by many states, is a document that includes pertinent information about your pet and his health. A certificate of Veterinary Inspection typically shows not only your pet’s information (e.g. name, age, if they are microchipped) but also that your pet has received recommended vaccinations, is not showing signs of infectious, contagious or communicable disease, and is healthy for travel. Not every state requires you to be in possession of a CVI when traveling into that state with your pet, but if they do, chances are they also require that it be signed by your veterinarian and relatively current (often within the past 30 days).

Some states, such as California, do not require that dogs and cats have a certificate of veterinary inspection, but they do require that you have documentation supporting your pet’s rabies vaccination. That information can be noted in the health certificate or on a secondary source (such as the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Form #51 Rabies Vaccination Certificate or rabies tag).

To be completely prepared for your pet’s trip, check the specific regulations for each state you will be traveling to at the Department of Agriculture website.

And so before your next trip across state lines, pack a copy of your pet’s health papers in the glove box. Not only will it protect you and your pet from any fines, but should your pet get ill and need emergency care, you will have your pet’s health records ready at hand.

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Jan 25, 2011
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