The president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) returned this week from a health check-up at the North Pole, declaring Santa's reindeer to be healthy, free of disease, and ready for their Christmas Eve flight.

"I can assure you that all of them are in healthy condition and are all ready to go for Christmas Eve," said René Carlson, DVM.

In addition to supervising all of the business affairs of the association, the AVMA president serves as the official veterinarian of the North Pole. In this role, Carlson is charged with providing the yearly health exam for Santa's reindeer.

The reindeers' annual exam includes ensuring a health check about a month prior to their Christmas Eve flight to make sure they're healthy and not showing any signs of disease, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, or chronic wasting disease, that can be transmitted to other animals.

"It's important that they don't have any diseases they could give to other animals during their trip around the world," said Carlson. "They also need to be healthy, so they're less likely to catch any diseases themselves on that long flight."

Once she determined the reindeer were healthy, Carlson filled out the official "North Pole Certificate of Animal Export" that provides Santa with the documents he and his reindeer need to travel.

Carlson will make a follow-up trip to the North Pole prior to Christmas to make sure the reindeers' feet and legs are in good shape to take off and land on the rooftops and that they're still ready for the flight.

For kids who want to help the reindeer on their journey, Carlson recommended leaving a plate of graham cracker reindeer cookies, their favorite snack, for Santa to feed them between stops.

For more information on the AVMA president's role as North Pole Veterinarian, including Dr. Carlson's answers to kids' questions about reindeer, view AVMA's "Reindeer landing" page.

Source: AVMA