Why does my pet need to be in quarantine?

A dog in quarantine

A dog in quarantine

Depending on where in the world your pet is travelling to and from, it may be necessary for your pet to spend some time in quarantine before it is permitted freely into the country.

All countries carry one of three classifications regarding their rabies status: Rabies Free, Rabies Controlled, or High Rabies. Whether your pet will need to stay in pet quarantine depends heavily on the classification of its original and destination country.

What is rabies?

Rabies is a serious viral disease which causes acute inflammation of the brain. It is usually transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, and is invariably fatal to its sufferers. It is most commonly associated with dogs, however it affects many warm blooded animals throughout the world, and can be spread to humans through saliva. Most humans who contract rabies do so from an infected dog. Rabies is a serious problem worldwide, and, despite the modern availability of a post-bite vaccine, it still kills over 55,000 humans globally each year.

Why does my pet need to be in quarantine?

The purpose of quarantining animals where necessary is primarily to reduce the spread of rabies, although there are other diseases of concern affecting animals that travel, including hepatitis, parvovirus, distemper and canine influenza virus. In many cases, proof of vaccination against these diseases will be required upon your pet entering a country.

New Zealand is proudly one of the small number of countries in the world that are classified as Rabies Free, along with others such as Australia, Japan, the UK, Ireland, Antigua, Fiji, New Caledonia and Iceland.

If you are travelling from a Rabies Free country, it is unlikely that your pet will be asked to stay in quarantine anywhere else. There are still a few exceptions, however, so make sure to check with your destination country’s consulate as early as you can.

If your pet is travelling to a Rabies Free country from a Rabies Controlled country, it may still be possible for it to enter without a stay in quarantine if certain requirements are met. This generally includes a Blood Titer test and microchip, and whatever import permit and pet passport your destination requires.

Some Rabies Free countries require the Blood Titer test to be carried out a number of months before it will permit entry to a pet from a Rabies Controlled country. If you need to transport your pet sooner than this window allows, then in most cases it will be necessary for it to go through a period of quarantine first.

Pet travel from a High Rabies country to a Rabies Free country is more difficult, if not impossible. Some countries – including New Zealand and Australia – do not permit entry in this event under any circumstances. In many other cases, a period of quarantine will be unavoidable. The minimum length of this stay will depend on the country’s regulations. In certain destinations it is still possible to avoid quarantine, however, even if travelling from a High Rabies location, as long as other strict conditions are met. In EU countries, for example, it may be avoided if a Blood Titer test is carried out three months prior to travel.

If your pet is travelling from one Rabies Controlled country to another, quarantine can usually be avoided if the pet has lived in this country for at least six months and other destination-specific requirements are met. It can still be avoided if your origin country is a High Rabies country, but more stringent conditions will apply.

Pets can freely travel to High Rabies countries without quarantine, provided they have any relevant import permits and pet passports. If at some stage you are planning on returning your pet back to its country of origin, however, quarantine may be necessary and tighter regulations will apply. This can be found out by contacting the country’s consulate.