Low-Cost Veterinary Services and Pet Travel

How you can evaluate your options and determine the best veterinarian for your pet's move.

We understand that pet care can be expensive. Annual vaccines, check-ups and the occasional veterinary emergency can really put a strain on your budget. Depending on your situation, you may consider bringing your pet to a discount veterinarian to save a little money. While this is a great way for many pet parents to cut costs, those planning to travel or move with their fur family in the near future may want to reconsider this option. Here’s why!

Where do I find low-cost veterinarians?

Low-cost or “pop-up” veterinarians are often located in pet stores or other retail establishments where pet parents are already frequenting. For a limited number of hours each week, often during peak shopping hours on the weekends or evenings, a licensed veterinarian can administer vaccines quickly, ensuring many deserving pets receive care. They offer an easy and convenient way, often at a highly reduced cost, for your four-legged friends to get their rabies and other important vaccines. After your pets are treated, you’ll receive a printed vaccine certificate stating the basic information with an electronic signature.

In most cases, this is great! Not only is your pet vaccinated and safe, but you can also prove to your doggy daycare and groomers that your pets are protected. What many pet owners don’t realize is that there can be certain setbacks with paperwork if you plan to move internationally with a pet. We’ve seen it happen and want to make sure you’re on the right track for a successful move.

Common problems with pet travelFinley the cat moved from USA to Australia

It’s important to understand that veterinary work is a crucial part of a pet’s plan for international travel. You’ll need to ensure your pet is up to date on all vaccines required to enter their new home country. Then you, your veterinarian, and your PetRelocation relocation coordinator will make sure your paperwork is all completed correctly so we can apply for import permits, quarantine, health certificates, and whatever other provisions they may need to enter their new homeland legally.

One thing that surprises many of the staff at some veterinary clinics is just how detailed these forms and requirements can be. Traditional vaccine certificates in the United States do not list the details required, sending the vet’s staff to do a little digging into their more detailed patient records. Once all the information is discovered, a licensed vet at the clinic will need to apply their ink signature to an updated vaccine certificate. For most relocation plans, this is the very first step, and if your pet most recently saw a discount or “pop-up” clinic, this is where problems often begin.

While the convenience of updating your pet’s vaccines on a weekend quickly will save you time on that day, the lack of sufficient paperwork issued can cause huge hurdles down the road. 

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Did the paperwork they issued include the vaccine manufacturer’s product type?
  • Did it include the leptospirosis or distemper batch number? Chances are, they did not since these types of pop-up shops are meant for convenience in routine pet maintenance, not for complicated veterinary work.
  • Tracking down this information is sometimes impossible since the vets there are only available for limited hours each week. Even then, it may not be the same veterinarian from week to week which will leave you with no way to get the ink signature on these documents that will be required.

What to do if you’ve already used a discount veterinarian

If you have already used one of these services and just found out you will need to travel, you may be able to use the records you already have, depending on where you are moving. Most of the time, the printed out certificate they provided you will have a customer service 1-800 phone number on it where you can reach their corporate office. Keep in mind, the staff of their call center are rarely veterinary professionals, but instead customer service representatives. The scope of their knowledge for what’s needed for a pet traveling internationally may be limited, but they may be able to advise when the vet you saw will be servicing your neighborhood again. 

However, we advise that you consider starting the vaccine administrations over with a USDA accredited veterinarian who can see your pet through the entire process from their first vaccine to their final vet visit before travel. A dedicated veterinarian who keeps a detailed file for your pet may be the more expensive option, but if your paperwork doesn’t meet country-specific requirements, it could cause delays and extra expenses in the future. Having one dedicated veterinarian who can work with you and your relocation coordinator from beginning to end will help keep your move on track and give loving pet parents much needed peace of mind. 

Moving pets internationally can be a lot of work. There are so many moving pieces and having an expert who is deeply familiar with the regulations of each destination on your side will go a long way for granting you peace of mind. If you’re ready to get started planning your move and don’t know where to start, let us know!


PetRelocation Team


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Cats, Dogs


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