Traveling to Canada with a dog from the United States is easy peasy lemon squeezy as far as border crossings go. We’ve been several times with Sora, across three different borders (two in WA and one in Idaho) and have made it through without issue each time.
A bit of planning is necessary prior to departure, so we have outlined everything you need to know in order to successfully take your dog across the Canadian border by car.
Can You Bring Your Dog to Canada?
The main import requirement for a dog entering Canada is a certified rabies vaccination. Customs officials may also request a health certificate and microchip. Depending on the province visited, specific breed restriction regulations may exist limit entry (more information below).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), the requirements for your dog depend on your purpose for entering Canada.
If your dog is for personal travel or assistance (like a service dog), the requirements are straightforward. However, if you’re entering for commercial purposes, the regulations are a little more stringent.
Requirements for Traveling to Canada with a Dog
Bringing your dog with you to Canada, while relatively simple, requires following a few regulations.
Rabies Vaccination Certificate
Dogs under three months of age at the time of importing, who are accompanied by their owners, are not required to have a rabies vaccination. However, owners must provide proof of the dog’s age.
If your dog is over three months old, then you must carry and provide a rabies vaccination certificate on request.
To get the rabies certificate, simply head to your veterinarian and ask for a proof of rabies vaccination. Canada does recognize three-year rabies vaccinations.
If You Do Not Have a Rabies Certificate
Dogs entering Canada without a rabies vaccination certificate will be required to undergo a rabies vaccination at the owner’s expense within two weeks of arrival.
Costs associated with the service include:
- $30 + tax for the first animal
- $5 + tax for any additional animals
Canada does not require tattoos or microchips when importing an animal as a personal pet. If your dog is transported commercially and is under eight months old, then it must possess an ISO electronic microchip (which is different from the ones typically used in the United States).
Health certificates for dogs are issued by a licensed veterinarian after a health examination. The health certificate ensures the pet is free from any infectious diseases and meets all requirements for importation. The USDA typically stamps and approves the private certificate.
The certificate must meet the following (as noted from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency):
- be written in English or French
- be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian
- identify the animal (breed, sex, color, and weight)
- state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies
- indicate the date of rabies vaccination
- indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine
- specify the duration of immunity (otherwise, it will be considered valid for one year from the date of vaccination)
Dogs under eight months old traveling with their owners are only requires to provide proof of rabies vaccination.
Dogs younger than eight months traveling unaccompanied are required to be examined by a licensed veterinarian in Canada within 72 hours of arrival. This vet will then issue a health certificate.
Canada does not have any quarantine requirements. If the border guard admits your dog or pet, then you are free to travel with them as desired.
What to Expect Crossing the Canadian Border with a Dog
Border crossings can be a stressful experience, especially you have a dog along for the ride. However, in our experience, the border guards didn’t even ask us about the dogs.
Why? It’s probably because both countries have a similar low risk for rabies in dogs, cats, and ferrets.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your paperwork ready to go, just in case. Keep it easily accessible in the front of the car to have ready to present if an agent asks.
The Canada Border Services Agent will likely ask you several questions about your trip including:
- Where exactly you are visiting
- What is the purpose of your trip
- Whom you are visiting
- How long you plan to stay in Canada
These questions are asked mainly to weed out any suspicious travelers. Most of the time the agent will waive you through once they’ve gone through their list.
Breed Specific Legislation
Unfortunately, the stigma and laws associated with certain breeds is in effect in certain Canadian provinces and cities.
Ontario and Manitoba ban the following breeds and dogs whose appearance resemble these breeds:
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- Pitt Bull Terrier
- American Pitt Bull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The City of Toronto permits air transit of these breeds, however advanced notice must be provided and an agent is required to transit your dog.
Visit Justice for Bullies for more information on breed bans throughout Canada.
Bringing Dog Food into Canada
We always travel with dog food and treats for the pups. If you’re going to bring your own food, it must meet the following guidelines:
- No more than 20 kg (44 pounds) may be transported.
- The food must be of US origin, commercially packaged.
- The pet food or treats must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry from the U.S.
- 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.
It’s likely that the customs officer probably won’t ask about the dog food you’re bringing, but it’s always important to go prepared, just in case.
If you still have questions about bringing your dog into Canada, the following websites may help.
United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: Pet travel from the U.S. to Canada
PetTravel.com: Canada Pet Passport Regulations