From: Sarah Neilson, , Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Please see the Australian government’s Industry Advice Notice 172-2021 on Importing elderly cats and dogs with pre-existing or chronic medical conditions. You can email our team at the Post-Entry Quarantine Facility in Mickleham for more information at .

Enquiries about import conditions and permits should be directed to my team at .

Kind Regards,

Sarah Neilson

A/g Director | Live Animal Imports - Zoo, Aquatics, Laboratory and Companion Animals

Animal and Biological Imports Branch | Animal Division

Phone: 1800 900 090 (+61 3 8318 6700 from outside Australia)

Please note that I work Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

10 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

GPO Box 858, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

e-mail:  | Website:

172-2021: Importing elderly cats and dogs with pre-existing or chronic medical conditions

12 August 2021

Who does this notice affect?

This notice is for all airlines, freight forwarders, pet transport companies and importers of cats and dogs to Australia.

What has changed?

The department has seen an increase in the number of elderly cats and dogs being imported with chronic illnesses and medical conditions.

The Post Entry Quarantine facility is receiving a high number of client enquiries regarding the importation of animals that are elderly or have chronic illnesses and require a high level of veterinary care and treatment, such as kidney disease requiring intravenous or subcutaneous fluid injections or cancer requiring chemotherapy treatment.

It is the department’s experience that even animals with well managed chronic medical conditions can often arrive in Australia in a state of distress and poor health.  International travel can cause them to de-stabilise and rapidly deteriorate.

Know your import requirements prior to exporting your pet

It is an import condition that the dog or cat must be healthy and fit to undertake the journey to Australia and undergo quarantine.

You should consider your animal's age and condition, and how they will cope with long distance travel and climatic stress, when deciding to send your animal to Australia. 

It is also a condition of import that cats and dogs undergo a final pre-export veterinary examination by a government-approved or official government veterinarian within 5 days of the date of export to Australia. At the time of final pre-export veterinary examination, cats and dogs must be:

  • certified as healthy and fit to travel to Australia and undergo quarantine
  • free of clinical signs of infectious and contagious disease

It is the responsibility of the endorsing government approved vet to determine if an animal is fit and well to travel. It is important to talk to your veterinarian about whether your animal is a suitable candidate for international travel and is fit and stable with a relatively simple medical regime that can be easily administered by biosecurity staff at the Post Entry Quarantine facility if required.  

You should reconsider importing your cat or dog if they are not healthy and fit to safely travel and undergo quarantine. You may need to delay your animal’s import to Australia until their health has improved.  

What should you consider before importing an animal requiring special care to Australia?

Whilst your animal will be well cared for during their time at the Post Entry Quarantine facility, you should think about the stress that your animal may experience with international travel and quarantine stay. Stress may exacerbate pre-existing conditions or worsen the health status of animals with special medical needs.

The PEQ website now has comprehensive information about importing animals with special care requirements. You must notify us if your animal has any medical requirements when making your quarantine booking so we can ensure appropriate care of your animal. In such circumstances, we will require additional information from your treating veterinarian to correctly manage the condition by completing a special care animal declaration outlining the animal’s condition/s and care requirements which can be submitted to 

What level of care to expect during post-entry quarantine in Australia

The facility is staffed within the daylight hours of 0800 and 1600. Care is provided during these hours; cats and dogs are not monitored outside of these hours.

Our government veterinarians at the PEQ examine incoming animals for evidence of biosecurity concerns. They do not provide general veterinary care, consultation, prescribe or dispense medication for treatment of conditions not related to biosecurity.

As a pet owner, you must consider whether it is in your pet’s best interests to be subject to long distance travel and the 10 days stay in quarantine. If you elect to import your pet with an underlying medical condition, the department strongly recommends that you arrange for a private veterinarian to examine your pet after their arrival at the quarantine facility. The private veterinarian can determine whether changes to your pet’s care or medication are necessary following any stress associated with importation.

Cats and dogs that are unwell on arrival, or become unwell during quarantine, may require private veterinary attendance at the expense of the person in charge of the animal.  Supervision fees will apply and the person in charge is responsible for paying all associated fees.  

Deceased animals in transit, on arrival or during quarantine

When a pet dies in transit to Australia, on arrival or during the quarantine period the department may require a post-mortem examination to be conducted to determine if the cause of death is from a disease of biosecurity concern.

In recent months the department has seen an increase in animal deaths on arrival or during the quarantine period due to the stress of travel, their age, and chronic medical conditions. The post-mortem reports indicate that those animal’s deaths were due to chronic illness or pre-existing medical conditions and unrelated to biosecurity disease.

Pets remain subject to biosecurity control until such time as they have completed the post-entry quarantine period and are in full compliance with the import conditions. In the instance where a pet dies in transit to Australia, on arrival or during the quarantine period, departmental policy requires that deceased animals cannot be released from biosecurity control or returned to the owner as the import conditions have not been fulfilled. The department is unable to provide cremation services and the return of the ashes to the owner. The animal’s remains must be disposed of by deep burial at an approved biosecurity facility.

Further information

Importers are encouraged to check our website regularly or subscribe to our mailing list for up to date information as import conditions can change without notice.

If you require further information, please call 1800 900 090 or email 

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