Paradise Paws: Moving to the Big Island of Hawaii With Your Dog

Planning on moving to the Big Island with your furry friend? You’ve come to the right place!


Relocating pets to Hawaii may seem daunting. However, correct planning reduces stress for both you and your pets.

When you get overwhelmed, just imagine your perfect life on the island with your furry friends to keep a positive mindset throughout this process. Let’s dive into some essential tips to ensure a smooth transition.

Understanding Hawaii’s Quarantine Laws

Hawaii Rabies Quarantine Information Brochure
Animal Quarantine Information Page

Did you know that Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the U.S.?
The state maintains this status through stringent quarantine rules protecting the health of people and pets.

There are 3 quarantine options:

– Direct Airport Release (DAR)
– 5 Day or Less Program
– 120-Day Quarantine

3 conditions need to be satisfied in order to be qualified for DAR and 5 Day or Less Program.

– FAVN Rabies Antibody Test result is successful.
– Minimum of 30 days waiting period after a successful FAVN test has been completed.
– Required paperwork has been submitted on time.

If all procedures are not followed, the dog or cat will be denied DAR and will undergo quarantine up to 120 days until the requirements are met and release.

You definitely want to avoid this situation especially because this might cause a tremendous stress to your pets.

There is one more thing you need to be careful about.
Oahu is the Port of entry where quarantine generally begins, so if your destination is neighbor island, it becomes a bit trickier.

Checklist for Oahu (Checklist 1)
Checklist for Big Island (Neighbor Islands) (Checklist 2)

Preparing Your Dog for the Move

Preparation involves several critical steps:

  • Rabies Vaccinations – Provide original rabies vaccine certificates for the 2 most recent vaccinations.
  • Working Microchip – The pet must be microchipped for identification, which is necessary to match the pet with the blood sample.
  • OIE-FAVN Rabies Blood Test – Send a blood sample to an approved laboratory for the OIE-FAVN Test. This test measures the response of an animal’s immune system to the rabies vaccine.
  • Waiting Period – There is a minimum of 30 days waiting period AFTER a successful FAVN rabies antibody test before arriving in Hawaii.
  • Submission of Documents – Owners must ensure the required documentation is received by the Animal Quarantine Station at least 30 days ahead of the planned arrival.
  •  Pet Pick Up – For Big Island pick up, you need to obtain Neighbor Island Inspection Permits. Also, owners must contract with and make an appointment for inspection with approved clinics.

How long does it take to qualify 5-day or less program?

As of March 2024, according to the State of Hawaii Animal Industry Division, it takes at least 4 months to qualify an adult pet for the 5-Day or Less program if it has received at least 1 rabies vaccination.

For a newborn puppy, it takes at least 10 months.

Additionally, FAVN testing laboratories are experiencing longer than usual processing times. Test results may be delayed by 1 to 2 months.

Now you understand why it’s crucial to plan well in advance, right?

Common Pitfalls to Avoid:

Misunderstanding flight/breed restrictions. Don’t assume that all airlines accept all breeds for travel. In reality, some breeds, particularly short-nosed dogs and cats, may be banned from flying due to increased health risks during air travel.

Additionally, some airlines may have specific crate or temperature requirements that vary depending on the breed. Failing to check these details in advance can result in being unable to board your pet on the day of travel.

Feeding your dog right before boarding can lead to discomfort, nausea, or even vomiting during the flight. It’s recommended to feed your dog a light meal a few hours before departure and ensure they stay well-hydrated. While healthy dogs can generally go 24 hours without food, maintaining hydration is crucial.

Crate training is extremely important. If your dogs are familiar with their crate, they will understand that it is a safe place for them. This can greatly reduce stress and anxiety for them. Otherwise, they might injure themselves by rubbing their nose against the crate or chewing on the water tray, among other things.

Moving to Hawaii with your dog

Adjusting to Island Life with Your Dog

Once you and your dog have successfully navigated the quarantine process, adjusting to island life will be your next challenge. Here are some tips:

Acclimate Your Dog: Gradually introduce your dog to the new environment, starting with short outings and gradually increasing the duration.

Update Microchip and ID Tags: Ensure your contact information is current. This is crucial in case your dog gets lost.

Stay Hydrated: The Big Island’s climate can be hot. Always have water available for your dog, especially during outings.

Regular Walks and Exploration: Familiarize your dog with its new surroundings through regular walks. Be mindful of the heat, particularly the hot asphalt, and opt for morning or evening walks when it’s cooler.

Find a Reliable Veterinarian: Establish a relationship with a local vet for regular check-ups and any necessary treatments.

Engaging with the Pet Community

While dog parks are limited, many beach parks are dog-friendly. Engaging with the local pet community can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

I’ve lived on the Big Island for over 23 years, and have owned 2 Golden Retrievers, who don’t retrieve anymore, for more than 14 years. Therefore, we know who to contact for our dog’s needs, including medical attention, daycare, boarding, and grooming services.


No matter how you approach it, moving with your pet can be overwhelming. However, you can reduce both your stress level and your pet’s by starting early and preparing well.

Please visit the State of Hawaii Animal Industry Division’s website as soon as you consider moving to Hawaii to make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your furry friend!

After navigating this potentially challenging part of your move, paradise living awaits!

More Resources:

So, there you have it! These are just a few essential tips to remember when moving to the Big Island with your dog.

I hope these suggestions ensure a seamless transition to your new home for you and your furry companion.

Don’t hesitate to share this blog with anyone who might find it useful.
As a fellow dog lover and owner, nothing would make me happier than knowing it helped in some way.

Wishing you all the best on your Big Island adventure!

Moving to Hawaii with your dog

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