What You Must Know Before Driving Across the Canadian Border With Your Dog – PETSHORT


I haven driven across the Canadian border from the USA several times with my dogs.

People know I prefer to travel to Canada with my dogs so that they often ask me questions like:

“Can I take my dog to Canada?”

“How hard is it to cross the US-Canadian border with my dog?”

“What rules do I want to follow when crossing the border with my dog?”.

I’m all the time glad to share what I do know based on research and experience.

UPDATED: This text was originally published July 2014.

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Can I Take My Dog to Canada?

The short answer is YES. Typically anyway.

With the suitable paperwork, and appropriate vaccinations, adult dogs can travel to Canada from the USA (us) with you by vehicle

Note: to be clear, we’re talking about compantion dogs, not dogs being imported for industrial sale.

A dog can’t travel across the border into Canada with their owner if:

  • Your dog hasn’t had any vaccinations (getting Titer test done doesn’t count)
  • Your dog doesn’t have a current rabies vaccination and proof of it. *(see the sub section below regarding rabies and getting back into the US)
  • Your dog looks are sick with a communicable disease

Also, remember that Ontario has a ban on “pit bull” type dogs so that you is not going to give you the option to travel there with one.

In case your dog isn’t a pit bull but looks like one, bring documents proving that your dog isn’t one.

Otherwise, your dog can travel into Canada with you.

Dog Rabies Vaccination Requirements for Getting Back Into the US

To enter Canada, your dog just must have recieved the rabies vaccine and it’s essential to have proof of it.

There is no such thing as a requirement for the period of time that has passed between recieving the rabies vaccination and getting into Canda.

Dogs can enter into Canada if has been lower than 30 days between their rabies shot and the date you cross the border together with your dog.

Nonetheless, there is a waiting period for returning to the US.

The US requirement states a dog that has never been vaccinated against rabies have to be vaccinated a minimum of 30 days before arrival on the Canadian border crossing into the US.

Adult dogs older than 15 months of age, that previously received a rabies vaccination, given no sooner than 3 months of age, and that has since expired, may [travel across the US border from Canada] immediately after booster vaccination, without the necessity to wait 30 days.

Ensuring it’s been 30 days between the rabies vaccine and travel either direction across the border is the most effective method to make sure you and your dog don’t run into any complications.

Are the US-Candian Border Crossing Rules the Same for My Puppy?

For puppies younger than three months of age, vaccinations or proof of a vaccination will not be crucial TO GET INTO CANADA.

You have to to point out proof of your dog’s age on the Canadian border, which you’ll be able to get out of your veterinarian.

As listed above, the requirement to return to the US remains to be 30 days before entry, no matter age.

When you plan to bring your puppy, who’s under 3 months of age into Canada, and you intend stay in Canada for longer than 30 days, you would visit a veterinarian for a rabies vaccination a minimum of 30 days before your planned return to the US.

That may be a tricky, uncertain game to play though. It might just be best to attend until 30 days after your puppy’s first rabies vaccination to travel to Canada with them.

Traveling from the US to Canada with a Service Dog

There may be an exemption for service dogs.

Assistance and repair dogs can enter Candada with none paperwork, including proof of vaccinations, if the dog is traveling to Canada with the owner.

The one caveat is that the Canadian requirements state, for a service dog traveling accross the border without paperwork, the owner present documentation to support that the animal is certified as a service animal by a recognized organization.

A very important note here: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dog owners are usually not required to hold any form of certification.

Moreover, any online services that provide “registration” for service dogs are usually not legitimate – they prey on the uneducated for a profit.

So what is going to Canada expect once they say, “documentation to support that the animal is certified as a service animal by a recognized organization.”?

In keeping with my friend who’s a service dog trainer, and the founding father of the blog Puppy in Training, says, “the organizations I’ve been involved with do give some kind of documentation to the service dog handlers” so I’m assuming this might be acceptable to Canadian border crossing guards.

Service dogs traveling alone or with other people into Canada are subject to the identical regulations as non-service dogs. 

Assistance and service dogs traveling back into the US do need proof of rabies vaccination as outlined above.

Required Paperwork for Traveling Across the US-Canadian Border with Your Dog

When you plan to cross US-Canadian border, you will want paperwork proving that your dog has had a rabies vaccination.

This paperwork should list your licensed veterinary clinic, the trade name, date, and expiration date of the vaccination, and contain your vet’s signature.

The rabies certificate must also include the owner’s name (your name) and an outline of your pet (breed, color, and weight).

Concentrate on the timing requirements listed above.

To reiterate, if you find yourself entering Canada there isn’t a required waiting period between the time the animal is vaccinated for rabies and the time the animal is imported into Canada.

Nonetheless, entry into the US requires that your dog had a rabies vaccination a minimum of 30 days prior.

Transporting Dog Food and Treats Across the Border

I’ve done some research on what form of food and treats you possibly can’t cross the border with.

Bringing pet food and treats into Canada from the US

The final rule for bringing pet food and treats into Canada from the US are….

Travelers may bring as much as 20 kg , or 44 lbs, (total) of pet food and treats across the Canadian border if it meets the entire following requirements:

  • The pet food or product have to be of United States origin and be commercially packaged
  • The pet food or product have to be within the possession of the traveler on the time of entry from the U.S.
  • The animal that may eat the imported product must accompany the traveler on the time of entry
  • The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada

Bringing pet food and treats into the US from the Canada

In keeping with the US Department of Ariculture, travelers may bring certain pet food, chews and treats from Canada back into the US if:

  • The items have to be in unopened retail packaging
  • If the items are raw (not shelf-stable without refrigeration), dehydrated, freeze-dried, or sun-dried, then the items have to be labeled as a product of Canada or the U.S.

When you are traveling back from Canada by land, there may be a limit of fifty lbs, or 22.5 lbs, per vehicle.

You possibly can’t bring pet food or treats containing lamb, sheep or goat into the US from Canada.

Note: once I researched this back in 2014, the regulations stated goat or lamp products were allowed if the label on the bag showed it was of US origin but that “loophole” doesn’t appear to exist anymore.

The underside line is to make sure that all food and treats are of their original packages, which lists the ingredients and sources, and be prepared to depart any items deemed to be prohibited within the custom’s trash can.

What it’s Like Crossing the Us-Caadian Border with Your Dog

It might probably be nerve-wracking driving across the Canadian-US border in case you don’t do it often.

The border guards rarely smile and ask a ton of questions that sometimes seem irrelevant.

The questions we all the time get asked include:

  • Where are you from?
  • What’s the purpose of your trip?
  • How long will you be staying?
  • Where are you staying (including address sometimes)?

We also often get asked small details about where we’re going or an event we’re traveling to Canada for.

Evidently making you nervous and asking details is a way of determining whether you might be lying or not.

I’m unsure whether it is true but I even have heard that the guards are trained to make you nervous on purpose because a standard, honest person will get nervous but someone with lower than good intentions will act “strange” – either sweating bullets or playing to too cool.

Traveling across the border has been very easy for us.

I proudly waived my paperwork for my dogs our first time across the Canadian border however the guard didn’t ask to take a look at it to confirm the knowledge.

I even have never been asked about treats or food I’m bringing across the border either.

Even though it’s rare, I even have heard of individuals asked to tug aside for an inspection by border guards though.

I’ve only ever traveled across the US-Canadian border in a private vehicle but I’m told that in case you are traveling in an RV you will be inspected irrespective of what.

Have  you traveled across the US-Canadian border with pets? Do you might have any suggestions or stories you possibly can share?


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