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Veterinary Care for Dogs

Introduction | Summary of Changes to Veterinary Care Standards for Dogs


This page provides a general overview of the veterinary care requirements for dogs covered under the changes to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that was published in the Federal Register on May 13, 2020. The rule takes effect on November 9, 2020. These changes aim to promote compliance, reduce licensing administrative burdens, and strengthen safeguards to ensure humane care for animals covered under the AWA.

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Summary of Changes to Veterinary Care Standards for Dogs

Section §3.13 of the new AWA regulations requires facilities to work with their attending veterinarian to develop a written Program of Veterinary Care for dogs.  Under the new regulation, the program must include a scheduled visit by the attending veterinarian not less than once every 12 months, and all dogs on the premises must receive an annual physical exam to ensure their health and wellbeing.

A facility’s Program of Veterinary Care also needs to include vaccinations for contagious and deadly diseases, as well as sampling and treatment for parasites and other pests.  Facilities must also have preventative care plans in place to ensure their dogs have healthy and unmatted coats, properly trimmed nails, and clean and healthy eyes, ears, skin, and teeth.

In addition, facilities must maintain all medical records for their dogs and make them available during inspections.  Medical records need to include identification, records of routine husbandry, a description of any health-related issues, and records of vaccinations and other tests.


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