Editor’s Note: In the spirit of the season, WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine issues a light-hearted look at an important subject: the requirement for physical examination and issuance of an international health certificate by USDA-accredited veterinarians for animals that will be moved internationally. 
 
PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has concluded the annual physical examinations of nine reindeer owned by Santa Claus. 
WSU veterinarians say the hardy animals are, “good to go.”
 
“Santa is a great client and takes fantastic care of his reindeer,” said Stacey Byers, veterinarian and resident in agricultural animal medicine and surgery. “It’s no wonder we found them to be in optimal health and ready for international travel on Christmas.”
 
The WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital issued nine health certificates to Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. 
 
International health certificates are valid for 30 days. Animal owners considering international animal transport should consult their veterinarian and seek health certificates well in advance—which is why Santa brought his flying reindeer to WSU the week before Christmas.
 
Only veterinarians accredited by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services branch can legally write animal health certificates for international travel. Byers went on to say that at latitude 46.73 North, WSU is the closest USDA-accredited veterinary college to the North Pole where Santa lives.
 
Although the examination process went smoothly, one reindeer was found to have unusual redness around his nasal passages.
 
“We had a little concern for newest reindeer, Rudolph, when we first examined him,” said Byers.  “Due to the redness of his nose, we had to work him up more thoroughly to ensure he was not a disease risk for the countries he visits.”
 
After examination and laboratory tests, the WSU veterinary team concluded Rudolph’s red nose was nothing more than a very prominent birthmark.
 
Santa’s flying reindeer complete an annual journey that surpasses any animal migration found in nature.  All their travel takes place at night and they complete a circumnavigation of the globe in less than 24 hours as they are chased by the sun. 
 
Land-based reindeer, cousins to Santa’s fliers, actually migrate farther than any other terrestrial mammal during their annual migration.
 
“WSU’s veterinary college is open 24 hours a day, every day, so if any of Santa’s reindeer have medical problems, he knows he can call or drop by for service by Cougar veterinarians,” said Byers.