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 be sure to know what is required before crossing the US Canada border.
Traveling to Canada with a Dog from the United States
The main requirement for a dog entering Canada is to have a certified rabies vaccination. A health certificate, microchip, and specific breed restriction regulations may also exist depending on your dog’s age and breed.
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.
Planning to fly with a dog outside of the US? See our post about how to fly internationally with a dog.
Rabies Vaccination Certificate Requirement
Bringing your dog with you Canada, while relatively simple, requires following a few regulations.
Is your dog under three months of age at the time of importing? If so, you do not need a rabies certificate and only may need to provide proof of age. If your dog is over three months old, then you are required to carry and provide a rabies vaccination certificate.
To get the rabies certificate, simply head to your veterinarian and ask for a proof of rabies vaccination. 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 vaccination;
- indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine; and
- specify the duration of immunity (otherwise, it will be considered valid for one year from the date of vaccination).
Canada does not require tattoos or microchips when importing as a personal pet. If your dog is transported commercially and is under eight months old, then it must have an ISO electronic microchip (which is different from the ones typically used in the United States).
Health certificates for dogs are issued by licensed veterinarians 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.
If your dog is older than eight months, a health certificate is not required. If the dog is younger than eight months and traveling unaccompanied, then a health certificate must be issued within 72 hours of arrival in Canada. Otherwise, if your dog is under eight months and traveling with you then you only need proof of the current rabies vaccination.
Although many countries have quarantine requirements, specifically island nations, 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.
Normally, border crossings can be a stressful experience, especially when traveling with a dog. 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 and do your upfront preparation. Just know the actual border crossing should be a breeze.
From our experience in traveling abroad, the main issue when crossing borders and the paperwork needed depends on your country of origin. Both the US and Canada fall on the same Part 2 of the Annex II list, categorizing the countries as low risk for rabies.
Traveling to Europe with your dog? Understand the necessary requirements we outline in the blog post.
Unfortunately, the stigma and laws associated with certain breeds has lagged far behind in certain Canadian provinces and cities. Ontario and Winnipeg have bans on the following breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The city of Ottawa has chosen not to enforce the ban, and instead adheres to the the bylaw in Ontario.
Don’t forget to bring along the essentials on your trip for your pup. Check out our Travel with a Dog Gear Guide so you don’t forget anything important.
Dog Food and Treats
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, and unopened.
- 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 be of some help.
United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: