US Unveils New Travel Rules for Dogs to Prevent Rabies

Last Updated: June 28, 2024

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Traveling dog

The US government announced a fresh set of rules for those wanting to travel with their dogs, aimed at curbing the spread of rabies. This update, set to take effect on August 1 - 2024, outlines specific requirements for dogs entering the country, focusing on age, vaccination, and identification.

Key Requirements for Dog Entry

Under the new regulations, all dogs must be at least six months old and microchipped.

The age requirement ensures they are old enough for vaccination, while the microchip helps verify rabies vaccination status.

Additionally, dogs must have completed a new CDC import form, with further restrictions possible depending on the dog's whereabouts in the previous six months. These could include blood tests from CDC-approved labs.

Emily Pieracci, a rabies expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emphasized the necessity of these rules.

"This new regulation is going to address the current challenges that we’re facing," she stated. 

The regulations, last updated in 1956, have been revised to meet the demands of today's world, where international travel with pets is more common and overseas breeders and rescue groups are more prevalent.

Replacing the Temporary Order

The temporary 2021 order, which halted the importation of dogs from over 100 countries where rabies remains a problem, will expire on August 1. The new rules are a permanent replacement for this order.

Historically, dogs were primary carriers of rabies in the US until the disease was eradicated through vaccinations in the 1970s.

Rabies, a virus that attacks the central nervous system, is almost always fatal once symptoms appear and is typically spread through bites from infected animals.

Dog travel out of the country by car

Since 2015, four rabid dogs have been identified entering the US, raising concerns among officials. There has also been an uptick in incomplete or fraudulent rabies vaccination certificates and cases of puppies being denied entry because they were too young for proper vaccination.

Pieracci highlighted the changes in global pet travel trends, noting, "More people travel internationally with their pets, and more rescue groups and breeders have set up overseas operations to meet the demand for pets."

Preparing for the Changes

With around 1 million dogs entering the US annually, the CDC hopes these new regulations will fortify the nation's defenses against rabies. The draft version of these rules, shared last year, drew a wide range of public comments, reflecting the significance and impact of these changes.

As August 1 approaches, pet owners and animal welfare groups are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the new requirements to ensure smooth and safe travels.

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Dog at the airport

You can find the new required documents here

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.