2024 CDC Dog Import Rules Impact RVers Crossing the Border with Dogs

Many RVers camp with their dogs and it has always been pretty easy to take them to Canada or Mexico and back—but not anymore.

Are you and your dog RVing to Alaska this summer? Are you a Canadian who snowbirds with your dog in the U.S. Sunbelt? Or an American RVer who visits Mexico with their dog? A new Dog Import Rule by the Centers for Disease Control is about to make your trip more complicated.

There’s no way around it. If you’re an American, you can’t RV to Alaska without crossing the Canadian border. Thankfully Canada hasn’t changed their rules for taking dogs into Canada. But the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just made the classic RVing bucket list trip a little more complicated for pet parents taking family dogs along for the ride to Alaska.

If your bucket list RV adventure to Alaska starts soon, pay attention. You have a veterinary appointment to make before you hit the Alaska Highway. And if you’re a Canadian snowbird who RVs with dogs in winter or an American who snowbirds in Mexico during winter, at least you have plenty of time to see your vet.

Many RVers camp with their dogs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The CDC just announced new rules for all dogs entering the United States.

Starting August 1, 2024, all U.S.-vaccinated dogs entering the United States by land, air, or sea, must:

  • Be at least 6 months of age at time of entry or return to the United States
  • Have an implanted International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-compatible microchip
  • The microchip number must be documented on all required forms and in all accompanying veterinary records
  • Have a CDC Dog Import Form receipt

This form should be filled out online ideally 2-10 days before arrival. It can also be completed right before travel (even in line at the border crossing) if you have internet access. If the information on the form changes before the dog arrives, you must submit a new form and indicate you are making changes to an existing form. All information including port of entry where the dog is arriving must be correct at time of arrival.

Many RVers camp with their dogs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This form requires you to upload a clear photograph of the dog showing its face and body. Dogs that will be less than one year of age at time of arrival should have the photograph taken within 10 days before arrival.

The CDC is striving to more rigidly enforce dog importation (including animal rescue efforts) from countries with higher risk of rabies transmission. But what the new CDC ruling will also do is make crossing the U.S. border with dogs more complicated and expensive. It doesn’t just impact the average RVing pet parent. It also impacts recreational dog sports participants and those who wish to adopt dogs from other countries.

Want to see this ruling rescinded?
Sign the Change.org petition, “Revise the CDC’s New Import Requirements for Dogs”.

Many RVers camp with their dogs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s different for RVing dogs returning to the United States?

RVing dogs have always needed a rabies vaccination to re-enter the United States. But pet parents with dogs who have been vaccinated in the U.S. will be additionally impacted by two new requirements when crossing the Canadian border and traveling into the U.S.

All dogs must be microchipped. And you must carry documentation of the microchip number. This must have been implanted prior to any required rabies vaccination.

The CDC Dog Import Form is also now required before crossing the border. You can fill it out up to 10 days ahead of crossing. Or, do it online at the CDC website while you’re in line at the border crossing. That’s if you have internet access (some rural border crossing stations favored by RVer lack cellular coverage). The form requires you to upload a full-body photo of your dog too.

And, your veterinarian must complete either a Certification of U.S.-Issued Rabies Vaccination form or a USDA endorsed export health certificate. Plus, you must carry a printed copy of either form to present to border agents.

Many RVers camp with their dogs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are more rules for dogs returning to the U.S. especially if the dog is coming from a country where rabies is more prevalent. But for the average person going to Alaska with family dogs or the Canadian snowbird headed south in fall, the new CDC rules for RVing with dogs means adding an extra veterinary visit to the trip planning to-do list.

The CDC’s “Requirements for dogs with a current and valid rabies vaccination administered in the United States” has more details.

I agree with others that this is total nonsense (the PG version of what I’m really thinking!) First off, are we having a pandemic of rabies infections running through America? I hadn’t heard of that yet.

Many RVers camp with their dogs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Secondly, I know there have been attempts by puppy mills to smuggle litters in as, “oops, they were born while I was visiting my parents” and yes, I don’t want to see that happening but there may also be a legitimate reason why someone is entering the States with a dog under 6 months old.

Lastly, mandatory microchipping??!! REALLY?! And don’t forget, you need ALL the paperwork to go with all of this. Heaven forbid that they have a microchip scanner and confirm that the chip is registered to the person standing in front of them since it seems to be that important. They’ve gone too far with this one. It’s easier for a human to enter the country illegally!

Worth Pondering…

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

―Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome

UNWRITTEN Rules for Camping with a Dog

Everyone knows you need to pick up after your dog but do you know these UNWRITTEN rules of camping with a dog?

Are you planning to take your dog on your next camping trip? If so, read this first!

Taking your pets on adventures can be one of the greatest pleasures. But, when camping with your dog there are some UNWRITTEN rules that you will want to follow. 

The following outlines seven essential rules of camping with your dog to help keep them, you, and your camping neighbors happy.

While you love having your dog along for the ride with you, there can be a challenge to make RV life more pet friendly. Here are some tips that may help you along the way. Check out my other guides for traveling with pets:

Keeping your dog on a leash and picking up after them are right at the top of the written rules of campground policies. Of course, those are the two BIG rules everyone should follow.

But they’re not the only ones! The UNWRITTEN rules of camping with a dog are just as important. By abiding by them, you’ll be spared from unwanted complaints or annoyed neighbors. Besides, you don’t want to be a bad camping neighbor, to begin with.

By the way, I have a series of posts on UNWRITTEN rules of camping:

A fake dog doing its business © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Walk them away from campsites to do their business

Even if you pick up after your dog, it’s bad etiquette to let them do their business on other people’s campsites. This is true whether they’re lifting their leg, squatting, or dumping their black tank.

Proper etiquette is to walk your dog away from others’ campsites and let them relieve themselves away from people’s belongings (including their RVs). Most campgrounds have trails, open grass areas, or even designated pet areas to use in such cases.

Dog on leash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Use biodegradable or composting dog poop bags

Campers love nature which means we also love protecting it. It’s best to use certified compostable dog poop bags or biodegradable bags. Be careful what you buy, though! Many brands claim to be biodegradable but don’t meet ASTM D6954-04 standards.

A campground pet parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Don’t let them bark incessantly

Dogs bark—I get that. And most camping neighbors won’t even flinch if your dog barks every now and then. The problem is when your dog barks incessantly.

In many cases, the dog owners are blissfully unaffected since dogs usually bark more when their owners leave them unattended. It’s the neighbors that are subjected to the noise while the owners are away.

If your dog is a barker, then proper camping etiquette requires you to invest a bit of time and money in training and training products. You can almost immediately fix the problem by getting an affordable and humane bark collar for dogs. These training collars use vibrations and/or beeps to train your dog not to bark. In many cases, the beep alone works and eventually putting the collar alone on is reminder enough for the dog to stay quiet.

If you’re opposed to collars, you can learn how to teach your dog not to bark through one-on-one training. There are YouTube videos for that.

A campground pet parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Keep your dog cool

Leaving your dog in a hot RV is no different than leaving them in a hot car. The inside temperature of a vehicle (including RVs) can get up to 45-50 degrees F hotter than the temperature outdoors.

If you leave your dog inside your vehicle or rig, ensure it is not hotter than 70 degrees F outside. Or ensure your rig’s interior temp doesn’t exceed 80 degrees. A favorite way to do that is to use Waggle Pet Safety Monitor.

I have heard of instances where camp hosts have had to break into RVs to get the dogs inside to safety.

Tip: If you are worried about a dog left in an RV, you should notify the campground host or the police. You should not break into the RV yourself as that exposes you to serious legal risk.

This rule also covers your dog being outside in extreme heat. Make sure your pup has access to plenty of water and shade. 

Traveling with a dog © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Keep them tick-free

One of the biggest threats to your animals is some of the smallest and easily overlooked. They can also be a threat to you! I’m talking about ticks.

Lyme disease is no joke and is spread by ticks. Some milder symptoms of Lime Disease are fever, fatigue, headache, and a rash. 

But if left untreated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. One of the worst effects causes people to be unable to think clearly for months after treatment. 

I have a few helpful articles on keeping your pet, your RV, and YOU tick-free:

6. Keep an eye on your dog (or hire someone to)

When traveling with your dog, you are bound to need to leave your rig at some point. But what do you do about your pup? 

You can buy excellent cameras that help you keep an eye on your dog when you are not around. One great option is the Furbo dog camera. Not only does it easily allow you to see what your dog is doing from your phone. It also helps keep your dog entertained by tossing treats when you tell it to!

Plus, it can alert you if your dog is barking. (Remember UNWRITTEN Rule #3)

When a camera doesn’t cut it, you can hire a pet sitter pretty much wherever you travel.

Dog on leash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Keep your dog under your control

Ensuring your dog stays under your control is for both your own safety and other’s enjoyment of the park. Having your dog under your control means your dog is unable to approach others, wander from your campsite or general area, bother wildlife, or be in a scenario where the dog may cause harm to property, people, or animals. 

Bring and use a compliant tie line, anchor, and leash for your dog.

Many parks and campgrounds ensure your dog remains under your control by listing a maximum leash or tie line length. Examples follow:

  • National parks maximum leash length: 6 feet
  • Wisconsin State Parks maximum leash length: 8 feet
  • Michigan State Parks maximum leash length: 6 feet
  • KOA (Kampgrounds of America) maximum leash length: 6 feet
A campground pet parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Keep your dog secure on your campsite

Whenever you leave your dog alone at the campsite, they need to be secured in your RV. But when you’re present, it’s nice to give them a secure area to roam or play.

One fantastic device is an invisible fence. This is a way to allow your dog to roam freely and explore in a specific, designated area that you choose. This is an excellent option for boondockers or people who camp in more wide-open areas. 

There are also portable fence options like the FXW Aster Dog Playpen and IRIS USA Dog Playpen. These fences are great for standard campsites (at campgrounds where dog fences are allowed).

Looking for a way to keep your dog on your property without using a physical fence? Check out SpotOn GPS Dog Fence. Spoton works almost anywhere but you need a lot that’s at least ½ acre. Why? Because you’ll need to allow for the fence alert/warning zone. The effective boundary for your dog is 10 feet inside the fence boundary that you walk. Walk your planned boundary with SpotOn’s dog collar and your phone or draw your fence in the app. True Location™ technology builds on conventional GPS and makes it better, giving you the most reliable fence boundary that never requires calibration. So your dog can have a great adventure without risking a great escape. Get professionally-developed training programs that’ll have your dog using SpotOn in a few simple steps!

Some RVers travel with a cat © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What about traveling with cats?

Dogs are not always your best friend. Sometimes it’s your cat!

And no matter what species your furry best friend is, you should be able to take him or her along with you on your next road trip.

Traveling with a cat comes with some added challenges but it’s nothing you can’t handle especially if you’re prepared with the right cat travel accessories.

Worth Pondering…

A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.

―Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes