Pet Travel. Made Easy.

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'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

Personality Traits of Adventure Cats

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 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 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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  • Vidhya Kalmadi says:

    Hey I am travelling from INDIA to Toronto with a one year old shihtzu. Will all of the rules described for pet movement from US to Canada and vice versa apply to my shihtzu as well

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Vidhya! Unfortunately, the rules are different depending on which country you’re traveling from, and the airlines have their own requirements as well. We’re not experts in international pet travel, but the folks at should be able to answer your questions. I hope that helps, and that you have a safe trip!

  • KK says:

    Hi, I am planning on traveling to Toronto from US via road with a 1.5 year old maltipoo. I am planning on carrying his health and Rabies certificate. My question is regarding the owner certificate, he is microchipped, can that be used as ownership certificate. If not, what other documents do I need to carry.


    • Amy at says:

      Hi KK. It sounds like you have a fun trip in the works! There is no need for an “ownership certificate” to drive across the US – Canada border with your pet. The only documentation you’ll need, assuming your pet appears healthy, is a current rabies certificate – and you’ll only need that when crossing into Canada. No documentation is required when driving a pet across the border from Canada to the US. I hope that helps, and that you have a great trip!

  • John Walther says:

    we are planning to travel through Canada from Buffalo, NY to Michigan. We will have 2 small dogs and one of them eats a RAW Food diet only. we will not be stopping or staying in Canada and i have read your blog but am slightly concerned about the food requirements. My wife prepares the raw food and it’s frozen until served. will there be any issues with the raw diet frozen food either coming into Canada or leaving entering the US during the 3 1/2 hour trip across Ontario? Any help will be much appreciated. BTW, the blog is great for information and I’m glad i found it!

    • Amy at says:

      Hi John! Thanks so much, and I’m glad you found us, too.
      Since your wife is preparing your dogs’ food, technically it’s not “pet food.” It’s human food that will be fed to pets. So, the issue you may run into is that food transported into Canada must be in “packages with identifying marks, indicating what the product is.” And when crossing back into the US, you may run into the same issue. The US requirements state, “Travelers may bring back fresh (chilled or frozen), cooked, cured or dried meat must have official documentation to prove the product’s country of origin.”

      My suggestion: for this trip get a box of The Honest Kitchen, or other pre-packaged raw diet for pets. And make sure the package is unopened when you cross the border. I know it’s a hassle, but if you try to cross the border with food that’s not commercially packaged, you could end up having to throw it all away. I hope that helps, and that you have a great trip!

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