Santa’s reindeer in good health and spirit to fly Christmas Eve


Hip hop and hoorah! The reindeer passed their annual veterinary check-up

Teller examining one of Santa's reindeer (Photo courtesy of the AVMA).

Teller examining one of Santa's reindeer (Photo courtesy of the AVMA).

North Pole officials have announced that Santa’s reindeer have been cleared to deliver gifts this holiday season after receiving their annual veterinary exam from Santa’s veterinarian, Lori Teller, DVM, DABVP (canine/feline), CVJ, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). She recently flew to the North Pole to make sure the team of 9 had updated vaccinations and travel forms and were in good health to journey around the globe and spread holiday cheer.

“After a full examination and review of their medical records, I’m so excited to report that Santa’s reindeer are healthy, in great shape and ready to fly on Christmas Eve,” Teller expressed, in an association release.1 “In addition, they have their health certificates and certificates of travel and will be ready to come to your house on Christmas Eve—that is, if you’re on the ‘nice list’ this year!”

The check-up ensures the festive creatures are not displaying any signs of disease (eg, brucellosis, tuberculosis, or chronic wasting disease) that can may hinder their ability to fly or infect other animals. A certified veterinary technician joined Teller on the trip to help with the reindeer examinations.

“We need to make sure the reindeer aren’t harboring any diseases that they could then potentially spread to animals in other parts of the world,” said Teller. “At the same time, making sure they’re healthy also means that they’re less likely to catch any diseases themselves on that long global flight.”

While on his Christmas Eve journey, Santa is also required to carry with him an official “North Pole Certificate of Animal Export” so he can freely cross borders and confirm to health officials his reindeer aren’t dangerous to animal or public health. Teller will make a follow-up trip to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to offer a final pre-flight exam and check the reindeer when they arrive back Christmas morning.

Teller’s responsibilities as Santa’s veterinarian demonstrate the daily role veterinarians play to help keep animals, people, and the environment healthy. Veterinarians work with species of all kinds and in various environments to promote a better place to live for everyone.

Though unavailable for comment because of a demanding work schedule, Santa issued a statement: “Without my reindeer there simply would be no Christmas. Proper veterinary care ensures that, year in and year out, my team and I are able to deliver presents to boys and girls around the world. Dr. Teller is definitely on the ‘nice list’ again this year.”

For children who want to feed the beloved reindeer and keep them fuelled on their trek, Teller suggests leaving a plate out of their favorite snack—graham cracker reindeer cookies.


Santa’s reindeer cleared for flight after annual veterinary exam. News release. American Veterinary Medical Association. December 13, 2022. Accessed December 13, 2022.

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