State Rabies Vaccination Laws for Domestic Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets in the United States

Rabies is a fatal virus that attacks the central nervous system. It is most commonly transmitted when a rabid animal bites another animal or person. Without prophylactic measures, the infection will result in death within days of onset.

Before 1960, rabies was a persistent problem among domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, and ferrets. Today, most rabies cases occur in the wild. However, rabies transmission to domestic animals, common house pets, and humans is still a reality. Fortunately, rabies is preventable in both humans and animals. Public health professionals and lawmakers alike have employed various strategies, such as vaccination mandates and animal import regulations to prevent the spread of the disease. As a result of successful prevention strategies, the United States has witnessed a dramatic decline in human rabies-related cases and deaths: the number has fallen from 100 deaths per year in the early 1900s to three or fewer per year.

For more information please visit the CDC’s Rabies resources here. For the most current rabies vaccination recommendations please visit the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians’ website to review the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016.

This map includes data on state-level pre-exposure rabies vaccination laws for domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets across the United States, as well as data on those laws referencing the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control. This dataset relies on external validation for accuracy and understanding of the application of laws and policies. If you would like to provide input on how your state’s laws have been captured please email the CDC’s Public Health Law Program at

Disclaimer: This data contains only state level laws. Please check with your local jurisdiction with questions about vaccination requirements in your city or county.

This product was developed by Dawn Pepin, JD, MPH, Public Health Analyst, Cherokee Nation Assurance Contractor, Public Health Law Program with the assistance of Jennifer Meier, MPH, Lauren Tonti, JD, MPH, and Matthew Penn, JD, MLIS, Director, Public Health Law Program (PHLP) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support. PHLP provides technical assistance and public health law resources to advance the use of law as a public health tool. PHLP cannot provide legal advice on any issue and cannot represent any individual or entity in any matter. PHLP recommends seeking the advice of an attorney or other qualified professional with questions regarding the application of law to a specific circumstance.

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