Pet Care: Happy Land­ings for Pets, Part 1

Howler Magazine - - Contents - By Dr. Gil­berth Cavallini Dr. Leti­cia Ca­jal

If air travel for your pet to or from Costa Rica is a new ex­pe­ri­ence, thor­ough prepa­ra­tion will en­sure you both have a happy land­ing. It all starts with plan­ning care­fully and as early as pos­si­ble to avoid com­pli­ca­tions and last-minute chaos.

Keep in mind the pa­per­work re­lat­ing to your pet's health sta­tus has some date­sen­si­tive as­pects. Cer­tain win­dows of time are crit­i­cal for ei­ther not act­ing pre­ma­turely or not act­ing soon enough.

Costa Rica's Na­tional Ser­vice for An­i­mal Health (SENASA) re­quires an in­ter­na­tional health cer­tifi­cate for all dogs and cats upon ar­rival at San José or Liberia air­port. Orig­i­nat­ing with the na­tional an­i­mal health agency in your de­par­ture coun­try, the cer­tifi­cate must be com­pleted by the li­censed vet­eri­nar­ian you choose to ex­am­ine your pet and ad­min­is­ter any vac­ci­na­tions, test­ing or treat­ments as needed.

Com­ple­tion of your pet's health cer­tifi­cate, and sub­se­quent en­dorse­ment by an of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment vet­eri­nar­ian in your home ju­ris­dic­tion, must oc­cur within two weeks of your flight to Costa Rica. How­ever, air­lines typ­i­cally re­quest the cer­tifi­cate be com­pleted within 10 days of your de­par­ture date. Some might ask you to sub­mit a copy in ad­vance. Be sure to clar­ify this with the air­line when book­ing your flights.

All dogs and cats older than three months old re­quire a ra­bies vac­ci­na­tion at least one month prior to their de­par­ture flight date. Dogs must also be vac­ci­nated against dis­tem­per, hep­ati­tis, par­vovirus and lep­tospiro­sis.. Treat­ment for ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal par­a­sites is also nec­es­sary within a spec­i­fied time pe­riod.

Dogs or cats trav­el­ing to Costa Rica from a Euro­pean Union coun­try must have an EU pass­port and ra­bies an­ti­bod­ies test re­port, in ad­di­tion to the in­ter­na­tional health cer­tifi­cate. The test re­port re­quire­ments can add up to three ex­tra months to the health pa­per­work pro­cess­ing time­line.

Your pet's health cer­tifi­cate for air travel to Costa Rica is valid for 30 days from the date stamped. If your de­par­ture flight af­ter vis­it­ing Costa Rica is within that time pe­riod, no more pa­per­work will be nec­es­sary.

For vis­its ex­ceed­ing the health cer­tifi­cate's ex­piry date, or pets liv­ing here to leave the coun­try, a sim­i­lar pa­per­work process is fol­lowed in re­verse. There may be some dif­fer­ences, how­ever, depend­ing on the des­ti­na­tion coun­try. A vet­eri­nar­ian in Costa Rica ex­am­ines your pet and com­pletes a cer­tifi­cate of health for stamped au­tho­riza­tion by SENASA, again valid for 30 days. In some in­stances, a lawyer's stamp may also be nec­es­sary.

For trips planned out­side Costa Rica, con­sult­ing with your vet­eri­nar­ian here is a good place to start, and may save you time and ef­fort in tak­ing fur­ther steps. Our clinic, for ex­am­ple, can look af­ter the en­tire ex­am­i­na­tion and doc­u­men­ta­tion process, in­clud­ing stamp­ing and fees. As al­ways, we ad­vise mak­ing ar­range­ments as far in ad­vance as pos­si­ble to avoid com­pli­ca­tions and in­con­ve­nience.

Keep in mind the pa­per­work re­lat­ing to your pet’s health sta­tus has some date-sen­si­tive as­pects.

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