Health certificates for dogs are part of the Pet Passport Scheme, which is essentially a passport that allows you to take your dog abroad and bring them back into the UK without the need for quarantine. They are not in any way connected to health guarantees that are sometimes offered by puppy breeders, and should not be accepted as part of the purchase of a dog as a standalone guarantee of the dog’s health.
If a health guarantee is what you are looking for, you will need to hire your own vet to examine the dog in question and provide a formal certificate of their findings, which can prove expensive as a complete certificate of health to support a sale may well involve things like DNA testing for hereditary health problems, and blood tests as well.
In this article, we will look at what is covered within a dog health certificate, how to ensure that your dog will be awarded one if needed, and the limitations of the certificates as well. Read on to learn more.
Health certificates are designed to allow the transportation of dogs across the international borders of countries that are enrolled within the Pet Passport Scheme. Not all countries recognise the Scheme, and may have their own entry and exit requirements, which you should of course look into well before you plan to travel.
Some countries have their own specific localised certificates that need to be completed before travel, while others may use the standard International Health Certificate form, which is designed mainly for travel to and from North America, but which has now been adopted by various other countries as well. Most countries in the EU and the European Economic Area, however, use the standard PETS Pet Passport and health certificate.
The health certificate is not a standalone document, but one that forms part of your dog’s essential paperwork, along with their ID passport itself. However, regardless of what country you are entering or leaving, you will almost certainly be expected to provide a health certificate that has been issued recently by a recognised veterinary surgeon in the country that you are coming from.
Ideally, the closer to the date of travel that the certificate can be issued the better, but health certificates can usually be issued up to three weeks before the date of travel.
The layout and format of different certificates can vary slightly, but they should all include the following information:
Some countries require that your dog’s health certificate is translated by a legally recognised translator or linguist into the language of your destination country, so check this out before you travel, particularly if English is not widely used in the country that you are visiting, or if the destination country does not use the Latin alphabet.
Some countries too also require additional vaccinations than the standard panel before your dog will be allowed into the country, and will possibly demand blood tests upon arrival, which will be mandatory and attract an additional fee, so again, check before you travel!
The reason behind the travel health certificate is to satisfy your destination country that your dog is not carrying any parasites or other problems that may be either non-native to the host country and so, pose a problem to the local ecosystem, or that could infect other pets and possibly people too.
The certificates also verify that the dog is healthy and free from contagious diseases or the symptoms of such at the time that the certificate is issued, and so that again, nothing that might affect either the health of other dogs or people in the country is present, nor anything that might again, introduce an eradicated illness back into the country-a good example of this is rabies, which has been eradicated within the British Isles.
However, as the certificate can be issued up to three weeks before the date of travel (although some countries require treatment with the appropriate flea and tick products under the supervision of a vet 48 hours before travel) it is possible for your dog to pick up something in between the time that they receive their certificate and when they enter the country, and so generally, dogs and other pets may require approval from a veterinary professional at the border before they gain admission.
If your dog has any hereditary or chronic health conditions that are non-contagious and not dangerous to other animals, you may be asked to provide evidence of this too, particularly if your dog has any visible symptoms such as a cough or laboured breathing. Border officials may well be concerned about the contagion risk of certain chronic health issues until they can verify their cause, and so you would likely be asked to provide evidence that the condition causing the symptom is not contagious, and due to a condition such as asthma, or a conformation fault as can be seen in certain brachycephalic dogs like the Pug.