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

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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 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.

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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  • Janet says:

    What if a dog cannot receive a rabies vaccination due to health reasons – is it possible to take her over the boarder? Thank You

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Janet! That situation is handled on a case-by-case basis. You’d have to contact the Canadian border agents where you’d be crossing and get pre-approval to take your dog across. Now that the rules have changed and no proof of vaccination is required to bring dogs into the US from Canada, you’ll have no concerns coming back across the border.

      Hopefully that helps. Waggin’ trails!

  • toni says:

    We (2 of us) are hoping to drive/camp through Canada from Montana to Maine with our 3 mini golden doodles. I read there is a limit of 2 dogs coming into Canada (and back into US??) – is this per person or per car?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Toni! As long as they are your personal pets, there is no limit on the number of animals you can cross the US / Canadian border with. So, no one has to stay home! ;-)

      Wishing you all a great trip and waggin’ trails!

  • Gene Perkins says:

    Hello. I have a 3 yr old black lab and will be traveling through BC on my way to Prince Rupert then to Ketchikan AK. I have my rabies vaccination valid till 2021. Dog is healthy. Will I need a health certificate going into Canada? And do I need one going into Alaska?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Gene! No, as long as your dog is healthy, you won’t need a health certificate to cross the border into Canada or into the US. Just pack your pup’s rabies certificate and have a great trip!

  • Jeannise says:

    Hi, I am planning a trip to Vancouver, BC with my German Shepherd. She is 11 months and has had her vaccines. I have a certificate but it only says when her next one is due. We have tried many times to have a line item receipt/rabbies certificate that states when she received the vaccine and they only ever print us one with the date it is next due. Have you ever had any experience with this? Do you think this would be a problem to take my dog in to Canada? It has the vet clinic and a description of my dog. I would imagine the documentation should look somewhat similar to our own immunization records with the date the vaccine was received (even if in multiple doses) and what the vaccine was. I’m hoping to go soon and have been quite frustrated with the vet clinic and just confused on what the certificate needs to look like and what information it needs to have on it.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Jeannise! It sounds like you have a great trip planned with your pup. You are correct – an acceptable vaccination 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).

      This must be quite frustrating for you. Perhaps you could try providing the vet clinic with a list of the required information that must be included on the vaccination certificate? If you’re not able to get them to comply, don’t stress. My advice is to take the form your vet has provided you and go on your trip. We’ve crossed the border several times when the agent didn’t even ask to see our dogs’ rabies certificates. Your dog is current on her vaccination, and that’s what matters most.

      Waggin’ trails to you!

  • Trisha palmer says:

    We are working on moving out of Alaska and will have to drive out through Canada. My concern is bringing my pit bull through on that side. Does anyone know if they have the same restrictions on that side of the country? His breed isn’t supposed to fly and a ferry isn’t an option. We are worried about what may happen to him driving through.

  • Jack says:

    Hi, my family and I would like to have an extended holiday on Ottawa and I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, I understand that if he is leashed and muzzled it’s ok, is this true? He is 9.5 years old, neutered, microchipped and in good health. We’re from the UK.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Jack! I’d hate to give you advice and then be wrong, so I’m going to recommend that you call Animal Control in Ottawa to confirm their policy regarding your Staffie. Sorry I can’t be more helpful, and I hope you have a great trip together!

  • Haley says:

    I’m going to visit the falls and considering bringing my dog who is a boxer mix but visually she definitely has bully-type characteristics just by looking at her. I have papers that say she’s a boxer mix – will she be ok?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Haley! Unfortunately, there’s no way I can say if you’ll be alright taking your girl into Ontario or not. If your paperwork says she’s a boxer mix, but doesn’t specify what she’s mixed with, there could be a question as to whether she’s part pittie. As you’ve probably read, pitbulls and pit mixes are banned from Ontario. My recommendation would be to enjoy the falls from the US side, or find a pet sitter where your girl can spend the day while you see the falls from the Canadian side. I wish I could be more helpful! Good luck to you.

  • Carol Ann Demetrio says:

    We are thinking of travelling to Niagara Falls in the fall. We have a 10 pound yorkie and a 20 pound Boston Terrier. Will the Boston Terrier be considered a bully type of dog? Some people mistake him for a pitbull or think he has some pitbull in him, but as far as we know he doesn’t. He came from a breeder in New Mexico. Will we have a problem if we decide to go to Canada for vacation with him?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Carol Ann! It sounds like you have a great trip in the works. I don’t think you’ll have any trouble with your Boston Terrier. I’d recommend taking along a document from your veterinarian (like your pup’s rabies certificate) that states his breed. If anyone would happen to question you, you’ll have something that says he’s not a bully.

      I hope you all have a fantastic trip! Waggin’ trails.

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