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Tips for Easier Traveling with Pets

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

* Plan ahead. Prepare to include your pets in the fun by making a list of the extra gear and supplies that you will need and any special reservations that you may require. Include food, litter, leashes, toys, beds, medications and pet carriers. Just to be safe, carry notes regarding your pet’s medical history and your veterinarian’s contact information.

* Have a practice round. If your pet is not used to car or plane travel, introduce him to the carrier prior to departure. Toss in a favorite toy or familiar object and take a spin around the block. Make sure that the carrier is airline-compliant and sturdy enough to make the trip.

* Travel green. Leaving home does not have to mean abandoning planet-friendly habits. Use biodegradable waste disposal bags when cleaning up after your pooch. If traveling with a cat, use a cat litter that offers odor control, clumping for easy clean-up and all-natural, flushable ingredients.

* Keep moving. Just like humans, your pets need as much exercise away from home as they do in their own environment. Make sure you make plenty of stops along the way and allow every member of your family to stretch his or her legs and breathe fresh air. Once at your destination, include your pet in hikes, walks on the beach or a visit to a local park.

* Drink up. Make sure that your pet has access to clean water throughout your travels. A pet’s body is 80 percent water– proper hydration is key to good health at home and on the road.

* Have fun. Enjoy this extra-special time with your pet. Include him or her in your vacation photo album. Visit a local dog park. It’s likely that your pet will “introduce you” to new friends along the way.

Animal Importation Frequently Asked Questions


Cat and Dog Questions & Answers

What entry requirements will my dog or cat be required to meet before I arrive in California?

Dogs and cats are regulated by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). For information regarding the importation and exportation of these animals please contact CDPH (website).

California Entrance Requirements for Dogs

All domestic dogs must be healthy. Dogs over four (4) months of age must have documentation proving current rabies vaccination. A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), also known as a health certificate, is not required for privately owned dogs entering California. Dogs imported into California for the purpose of being sold or changing ownership require a health certificate issued by a licensed and accredited veterinarian within 10 days prior to importation. It is the responsibility of the person importing the dogs into California to submit a copy of the health certificate to the local public health department where the dogs will live or be sold. If transporting dogs via commercial air, additional requirements may apply. Health certificates should not be sent to the California Department of Food and Agriculture or the California Department of Public Health.

California Entrance Requirements for Cats

All domestic cats must be healthy. Neither a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), also known as a health certificate nor a rabies vaccination is required to import a cat into California; however, if traveling into California via airplane, please call the airline as they may have additional requirements.

Does California have specifically approved rabies vaccines for dogs and cats?

Contact your local county Animal Control Office for more information.

When traveling by air, does my animal require a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), also known as a Health Certificate?

The California Department of Food and Agriculture- Animal Health Branch does not require a CVI for dogs or cats to enter the State by air, however, it is recommended to check with the airline as they may require a CVI along with additional requirements.

How far in advance should I contact my airline?

It is recommended to contact your airline three (3) to four (4) weeks before your departure for specific requirements the airline may have.

Does California require an entry permit prior to transporting my animal?

Currently, the California Department of Food and Agriculture- Animal Health Branch does not require an entry permit for cats or dogs entering the State.

How do I obtain a Health Certificate or a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI)?

Only an accredited veterinarian is authorized to complete, issue, and sign a CVI. Your veterinarian must contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)- Veterinary Services for Small Animal forms (APHIS 7001) at APHIS 7001-Small Animal CVI.

Should I be concerned about adverse weather conditions and flying my pet?

Please contact your airline for additional information about adverse weather and transporting your pet. Airlines may require acclimation statements on your animal's health certificate. If an acclimation statement is required your veterinarian should call the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 248–2862 ext. 287 for statement language. Only veterinarians should call this number.

If I am leaving California with my animal, who do I call?

Contact the state of destination for their animal importation requirements, or visit the USDA State Regulations Website. A link for each state is located under “interstate pet exportation” at USDA State Regulations Website.

If I am leaving the United States with my animal, who do I call?

USDA- Veterinary Services is responsible for all international shipments of animals including to Mexico and Canada. Please call them at (916) 854-3900. Their office hours are 7:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Pacific Time. You may also visit the USDA Import/Export Web Site.

If my dog was vaccinated in another state or country with a rabies vaccine not approved for use in California, will I have to revaccinate the dog in California?

In most cases, you will be required to revaccinate your dog. Contact your local county Animal Control Office for more information.

If the rabies vaccine is not available in the country I am traveling from, will I be required to vaccinate my dog after I arrive?

Yes, all dogs over four (4) months of age are required to be vaccinated. Contact your local county Animal Control Office for more information.

Who do I contact if I have a complaint about:

Animal Abuse: Dogs and cats or generic livestock complaints please contact the local Animal Control or SPCA.

Animal Health Technicians (Veterinarian/Vet Technicians):

Please contact the California Veterinary Medical Board at (916) 515-5220.

Sale of Dogs and Cats:

Please contact the District Attorney’s office where the animal was purchased.


Please contact the California Veterinary Medical Board at (916) 515-5220.

Animal Care Issues:

Please contact local Animal Control. Call the local offices; for the Western Regional Office located in Pacific Grove, CA call (408) 647-8897. For the local office in Sacramento call (916) 366-2632.

How do I submit a laboratory sample?

Consult your veterinarian first. Most submissions require a veterinary referral.

Where can I obtain tags to identify service dogs?

Assistance dogs are specially trained as guide dogs, signal dogs, or service dogs. People may apply for assistance with dog identification tags from their county clerk or animal control department. The tags are blue or gold in color, shaped like the State of California, 1” x 1.5” in size, and numbered in sequence.

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