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Bringing your pet into the United States: All you need to know

The United States of America is one of the most pet-friendly countries in the world. American cities offer the best of pet care as well as a plethora of pet-friendly events that you can enjoy with your furry friend. The USA is well-known for its pet-friendly policies and pet-friendly tourist destinations. Your pet dog or cat has to satisfy certain veterinary requirements and documentation to be able to enter the country.

The regulations mentioned in this article are not valid for the US state of Hawaii. Since Hawaii is a rabies-free state, your pet will have to follow a different and more stringent set of regulations to relocate to Hawaii.

Get a microchip

The first step in planning an international relocation is to get your pet dog or cat microchipped. Though it is not mandatory to get your pet microchipped when he or she travels to the United States, it is highly recommended. The microchip is very important and is of invaluable help when it comes to tracing lost or stolen pets. Make sure you implant an ISO-compliant 15-digit microchip that can be read by a universal scanner.

Mandatory vaccinations

Dogs seeking entry into the US need to be immunised against rabies unless your dog is travelling from a rabies-free country. The rabies vaccination must be administered at least 30 days before the date of travel. If your dog has been vaccinated for rabies as a puppy and the immunisation is no longer valid, he or she will need a booster dose before travelling to the US. If your adult dog’s rabies vaccination is current, your dog can move to the US without having to wait for 30 days. US regulations do not require your pet to undergo the rabies titre test.

Pets arriving from certain rabies-free countries are eligible for exemption from the rabies vaccination. Dogs entering the country from these countries do not have to be vaccinated against rabies before travelling. However, they will need to be vaccinated upon entering the country, and the owner has to sign a confinement agreement which means that you agree to confine your dog at home, away from other animals for 30 days. You will have to apply for the unimmunised dog permit at least two weeks before your pet travels to the US.

Some states in the US require your pet dog be vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Para-influenza and Bordetella.

Cats entering the US do not need to be vaccinated against rabies, although individual states in the US warrant it. It is advisable to vaccinate your cat before travelling to the US. Optional vaccinations for cat include Feline Enteritis, Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus.

Health tests

A clean bill of health from an accredited veterinarian must accompany your pet when he or she enters the US.

Screwworm: If your pet is travelling from any of the following countries where Screwworm is prevalent, your pet will need a Screwworm test: Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Easter Island, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Liberia, Macau, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paracel Islands, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Spratly Islands, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Before entering the US, your pet dog has to be inspected for Screwworms by a registered vet. Your vet must examine and certify that your pet dog has been checked for Screwworms and that the tests are negative. If the examination is positive for screwworms, your pet must be treated and confined in quarantine until he or she is free from the infection.

Tapeworm: All dogs, especially those used on farms to handle cattle must receive tapeworm treatment from a licensed vet before entering the US. Dogs travelling from Canada, Mexico, West Indies and Central America are exempt from the tapeworm treatment.

Foot and Mouth disease: If your pet is travelling from a country known to have Foot and Mouth disease, there are some precautions to take before flying to the US. Make sure your pet’s feet and fur are free from mud and dirt. The bedding must be clean and should not be made of hay or straw. Your pet has to be bathed as soon as he or she reaches your new home in the US and make sure your pet is kept separate from livestock for five days after entering the US.

Health certificate

Your pet will need a veterinary certificate in the proper format from a licensed vet. The health certificate must identify your pet correctly and mention the dates of vaccinations with the name of the manufacturer and expiration date of the rabies vaccine. The health certificate must also specify the results of other health tests such as Screwworm, Tapeworm, etc.

Arrival in the US

As soon as your pet lands in the US, he or she will be examined for signs of any communicable diseases. If your pet dog or cat is healthy and free from diseases of any sort, you can bring your pet home.

Your pet will be inspected to verify that the age and description matches with the information in the documentation. Your pet will be denied entry if you present incorrect documentation or if there is a mismatch in the records.

Call the experts

Relocating your pet dog or cat to another country can be challenging because of the complexities in the pet import rules of each country. If you are planning to move to the US with your pet, it is best to enlist a reputed pet relocation company to facilitate the move. Reach out to us at Petraveller for a detailed travel plan and other advice on relocating your furry companion to the US.