Dr Bowers is a USDA accredited veterinarians that can sign health certificates or Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for pet travel. Not all veterinarians are accredited and special training is required to attain accreditation.
Health certificates are required on all puppies sold in the State of Florida. A health certificate requires that vaccinations are given by a veterinarian and that the pet is deemed healthy and parasite free.
CVI Health certificates to travel are somewhat more detailed depending on your destination and whether airline travel is involved.
Many airlines require a health certificate issued by the veterinarian within 5-10 days of travel. Please note that airline requirements are separate from country requirements so you must find out what your individual airline requires. When making your inquiry with your airline, specify if your pet will be in the cabin or in cargo under the plane. Ask about pet size limitations and approved carriers (type, dimensions, weight, etc.)
The main reason laws are in place for pet travel is to prevent infectious diseases from spreading to different parts of the world. The added bonus is that a vet exam may help to determine if your pet should or could travel safely based on the health assessment, but this is not a guarantee that your pet will tolerate or survive travel. The vet has the right to not sign the health certificate if the pet is sick. Tests, such as parasite screening of stool and blood (for heartworms) and application of a preventative/treatment for internal and external parasites may be required. Vaccination(s), especially Rabies, may be needed. A microchip may be needed for International travel.
Pet Safety: For certain breeds, such as those with brachycephalic airway syndrome (bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers), travel in cargo is not recommended due to potential difficulty with acclimatization and breathing. Sick, neonatal, and geriatric pets of any breed should not travel. Travel may be stressful for a pet, especially in temperature extremes. Sedatives are not recommended because if there is an adverse reaction to the drug, the pet cannot access veterinary care while in the air. However, anti-nausea drugs for motion sickness are available. Discuss options with your vet.
Good planning is needed in order to travel with your pet. All accredited vets must follow the same laws set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), and cannot flex the rules based on mistakes in travel plans. The vet's role is to inspect the pet and decide whether to endorse the health certificate. The APHIS form VS7001 basically states that the animal appears to be free of infectious diseases and is not from an area under quarantine for rabies.
It is the pet owner's responsibility to find out what the destination country's requirements are and plan accordingly. The receiving country has the right to not accept your pet into the country and can hold them in quarantine if the requirements are not met or if your pet appears sick. Animal Friends Vet Hospital has access to many health certificates for different countries through the USDA website, but please bring any paperwork with you based on your research, that might be helpful.
Please note: Travel of a pet to a rabies-free state like Hawaii or a rabies-free country like Japan is at least a six-month process.