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Traveling With Pets to Canada Just Got Easier

The idea of traveling with your pets to Canada may make you nervous, but there’s really no need to worry! Our dogs have traveled with us across the border many times over the years, and we’re happy to share the tricks we’ve learned.

First, it’s a common belief that you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of hockey to get into the country. That’s not true, but there are some documents you’ll need. 

And if you’re planning to travel to or through Ontario with a bully breed, please pay special attention to the “Breed Specific Legislation” section at the end of this post.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs to Canada

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Documents People Need To Travel Between the US and Canada By Car

Most U.S. citizens can travel freely to and from Canada, as long as you present the right paperwork at the border. Those traveling for work, school, or who are planning to move permanently will likely need a visa. But if you’re just visiting, you can stay in Canada up to six months with proof of U.S. citizenship and identification.

A U.S. passport will serve as both proof of citizenship and identification. And, for those who meet the requirements, these additional forms of identification may also be acceptable:

  • U.S. Passport Cards
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses
  • Trusted Traveler Cards (Global Entry*, NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
  • Military Identification Cards (for members of the U.S. armed forces on official orders)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens on official maritime business)
 The Canadian and U.S. flags flying side-by-side

Traveling with Children

Children younger than 16 who are traveling with both parents can use their birth certificate as identification. However, only birth certificates issued by the Vital Records Department in the state of birth are acceptable.

If you’re traveling with a child for whom you share custody, or you’re not the child’s parent or legal guardian, additional documents will be needed. You can learn more about those requirements on the US Customs and Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency websites.

Pet-Friendly Hotels in Canada

If you’ll be spending the night in Canada, you’ll also need to find a great pet friendly hotel! Canada has many hotels that welcome pets, and it’s easy to find the perfect accommodations by searching online.

Order GoPetFriendly.com's The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip

Documents Needed For Traveling With Pets to Canada

Proof of Rabies Vaccination

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets the policies for traveling with your pets to Canada. They require that dogs older than 3 months have a current rabies vaccination. For dogs younger than three months, proof of age must be provided upon request.

Here is the official statement describing what must be included on the rabies certificate:

Domestic or pet dogs may enter Canada if accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate. A licensed veterinarian must issue the certificate in English or French and clearly identify the dog by breed, color, weight, etc.

The certificate must state that the pet is currently vaccinated against rabies and indicate the trade name of the rabies vaccine used,  including serial number and duration of validity (up to three years).

The vaccination will be considered valid for one year, unless otherwise indicated. 

Canada does not impose a quarantine on pets arriving from any country. Additionally, Canada does not require a vaccination waiting period. Your pet is welcome to enter Canada immediately after he or she receives the rabies vaccination.

 

What If You Don’t Have a Valid Rabies Certificate?

Traveling with your pets to Canada without a proper rabies certificate will mean jumping through some additional hoops. First, your dog will have to be vaccinated against rabies within two weeks of arrival. Once the vaccination is administered, you’ll have to submit the vaccination record to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency office.

In addition to the cost of the vaccination, you will be charged administrative fees of $55.00 + tax for the first animal plus $30.00 + tax for each additional animal. These fees must be paid when crossing the border.

Health Certificate When Entering Canada

Generally, health certificates are not necessary when traveling with your pets to Canada. It is possible for the border agents to refer any animal crossing the border for secondary inspection. But as long as your dog is healthy, this is unlikely to happen.

If a dog appears to be ill, the border agents may request a health certificate from a veterinarian. Their primary concern is that the dog’s condition is not contagious. We recommend that anyone traveling with a dog whose health could be questioned get a health certificate from their vet before their trip. While it’s a bit of a hassle, it’s easier than being held up at the border!

Dogs flying to Canada must meet the requirements of the airline on which they’ll be traveling, and most carriers require that all pets have a current health certificate.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips for traveling to Canada with a cat

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Taking Pet Food and Treats into Canada

Visitors traveling with pets to Canada from the U.S. are allowed to bring 20 kg (44 pounds) of pet food and treats into Canada, as long as they meets all of the following requirements:

  • The pet food or treats must be purchased in the US, commercially packaged, and unopened
  • The pet food or treats must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry
  • The animal that will eat the products must accompany the traveler at the time of entry
  • The products must be fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada

For longer trips, or if you’re traveling through Canada to or from Alaska, consider taking a dehydrated pet food with you. We love The Honest Kitchen dog food and it’s great for traveling because a 10 pound box makes 40 pounds of food!

Ty and Buster from GoPetFriendly.com eating dehydrated dog food from The Honest Kitchen

Documents Needed for Traveling With Pets To The U.S.

All dogs must appear healthy to enter the United States. And depending upon what country the dog is coming from, they may need a valid rabies vaccination certificate.

Dogs Coming from Canada No Longer Need Proof of Rabies Vaccination

In December 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their rabies vaccination requirements for dogs entering the United States. Now, only dogs coming into the U.S. from counties considered high-risk for importing rabies must have a rabies certificate. Canada is not among the list of countries considered high-risk on the CDC website, so proof of rabies vaccination is no longer required for dogs coming to the U.S. from Canada.

Health Certificate When Entering the U.S.

Like in Canada, if your dog is healthy he won’t need a health certificate to come into the U.S. If there could be any question about his health, we recommend getting a health certificate from a veterinarian that states his condition is not contagious.

READ MORE ⇒  The Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip

Taking Pet Food and Treats into the U.S.

Up to 50 pounds of pet food purchased in Canada can be brought into the United States, provided the following requirements are met:

  • The food does not contain lamb, sheep, or goat meat
  • The food must be in the original packaging, shelf-stable (not needing refrigeration), and unopened
  • The label on the packaging must clearly list the ingredients and country of origin
  • The food must be manufactured in Canada or the United States

 

In Real Life

The requirements are pretty straight forward. But if you’re still losing sleep, here’s what it’s really like to cross the border with your pets.Ty and Buster from GoPetFriendly.com sitting on rocks at Lake Agnes near Lake Louise, AB, Canada

Breed Specific Legislation

Province of Ontario

Ontario has an ugly Breed Specific Law that bans “pitbull-type” dogs from the province. Police and animal control officers are allowed to search for and seize any dog deemed to be a “pitbull-type” based on visual inspection.

If the dog is determined to be a “pitbull-type,” the dog is euthanized, though it may not have broken any other law. Here is a summary of the law from Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General.

No exceptions to this law are provided for tourists traveling with their pets. So, anyone having a dog that could be mistaken for a pitbull is urged to carry documents proving your dog’s pedigree when traveling in Ontario.

Pit bull dog with his head out the car window

 

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  • erin says:

    Thank you so much for this post, I have a job offer two weeks away and need to drive to anchorage. I was all out of sorts about the rabies vaccine information

  • barbara patton says:

    my dog is a full blooded bull terrier ( Spuds McKenzie or Target ) is this a prohibited breed

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Barbara! If you’re asking about the breed ban in Ontario, it does not include bull terriers. I hope that helps and that you have a great trip together!

  • Michael says:

    My fiancee’s dog has been diagnosed with Immune Mediated Polyarthritis and her vet in the US has recommended against giving the dog a rabies vaccination due to its illness. The dog is 8 yrs old and is on medication for its condition and is doing very well. She is planning on moving to Canada, if the dog doesn’t have an up to date rabies vaccination will she still be able to cross the border with her dog?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Michael! The only official guidance we have states that pets must have a rabies vaccination to cross the border into Canada. That being said, I would think the authorities would be reasonable in a situation that you’ve described. I’d recommend getting a letter from the vet stating the condition the dog has, the fact that it’s NOT contagious, that the dog is otherwise healthy, when the dog had it’s most recent rabies vaccination, and the fact that the vet advises against vaccinating the dog again due to the health risk. I’d then get in touch with the border agents at the location the dog will be crossing, share the letter with them, and see if they will make an exception for the dog. If they will, I’d get it in writing prior to arriving at the border.

      I’m sorry I can’t give you a more helpful answer, but each case is different when you’re asking for an exception. I hope it all works out well!

  • Rekha says:

    I want to bring my 2 pets dogs to Canada how do I do it

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Rekha! If you’re driving across the border, the post above should explain what you need to know. If you’re flying, you’ll need to contact the airline to determine their requirements. Safe travels!

  • Joanne Grossman says:

    Can you provide any insight into finding a pet transporter for a large breed. She needs a 700 crate and the airlines don’t allow it

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Joanne! I’m sorry, but pet transportation is not my area of expertise. I’d recommend contacting the folks at PetRelocation.com. They should be able to help you find the answers you need. Good luck!

  • B.C. says:

    Hi. Another question, does the province of Quebec have the same dog requirements as Ontario? (I.e. bully breed, or any other requirement other than rabies proof?). We are travelling by RV with the 3 dogs.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi B.C.! You shouldn’t have any issues crossing into Quebec – they require only proof of rabies vaccination and there are no province-wide restrictions based on breed. Waggin’ trails!

  • B. C. says:

    Hi. We are travelling in June from US to Canada, leaving from either NH or VT. We have 3 dogs, not one a bully breed (lab/bagel, chiquaqua/corgie, and a Moxie (dauschund/Maltese/Yorkshire). We have vet records, City licenses, etc. Does Canada have a limit of number of dogs crossing? What about crossing back from Quebec to Maine?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi B.C.! It sounds like you have a fun trip in the works! No, as long as they’re your own pets, there is no limit on the number of dogs that you can take across the border to/from Canada. As long as all the pups are healthy, all you’ll need for them are rabies vaccination certificates for the Canadian border agents. Safe travels!

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