There are different laws regulating the entry of people and pets into any country and Canada is no exception. US citizens require a passport and that’s it. However, if you’re planning to bring your dog into Canada with you, then you should know a few key pointers. Preparation will help you avoid an unpleasant ordeal with customs officials.
You’ll want to find a pet friendly hotel before anything else. Check out BringFido if you haven’t already. It’s an online directory for all things dog-friendly, including bed and breakfasts, hotels, apartments, air travel, and even long term rentals.
You’ll also need to know these other vital pieces of information when crossing the Canadian border:
Proof of Rabies Vaccination
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency supervises the entry of pets into Canada and ensures that your pet has the right documents and meets the requirements before entering the country. Because the United States does not have a rabies-free status, you need a valid rabies vaccination certificate. Make sure a licensed veterinarian signs your certificate and it’s in English or French.
Your pet’s certificate must include:
- Breed, weight, color and other identification
- The trade name of the vaccine used
- The serial number and validity of the vaccine
There is no quarantine for dogs coming into Canada, so your dog can enter regardless of when your vet administered the vaccine. If your dog has not been vaccinated prior to that time, you will be given some time to get the dog vaccinated at a recognized institution and present the certificate to the agency, usually within two weeks. Canada recognizes the 3-year rabies vaccine, but if you’re missing the validity date on your certificate it will be considered a 1-year vaccine.
Traveling with a puppy? You do not need to have a rabies vaccination certificate for puppies less than 3 months old. However, if the puppy is still not vaccinated before your return to the US, you will need to be approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
If your dog is a medical assistance or service dog, you don’t need proof of a rabies vaccination as long as you (the owner) are present and provide certification from a recognized service dog organization.
If your pet is a small animal like a rabbit, rodent, or bird, you can read more about their requirements here.
It is imperative that you visit a veterinarian regularly, even more so when you travel with your pet. If your pet looks ill, a health certificate will be required as proof that the illness is not contagious. You may not need this, but it’s a good idea to ask for one from your vet before you leave the country. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
The following requirements should be met for any traveler to bring pet food into Canada:
- Food and treats must not be more than 44 pounds.
- Only unopened and commercially packaged pet food of US origin is allowed.
- The traveler should be in possession of the food or treats at the time of entry.
- The pet eating the packaged food should be present with the traveler.
Unfortunately, you cannot bring your pit bull to the city of Montreal or the province of Ontario. Breed legislation in Montreal and Ontario bans any American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, or American bully. This law also applies to any dog that looks too similar to those breeds.
Please note that if your bully breed enters Canada from a different border and then travels into Ontario or Montreal, they can legally be euthanized. It’s safest to keep your travels outside of these areas if you have a pit bull-type breed, even if you were only planning on passing through.
Returning to the US with your dog or puppy
Dogs 4 Months or Older: You will need an authenticated rabies certificate when returning to the United States from Canada. Unlike Canada, the US requires you to give your pup the rabies vaccine at least 30 days before entering the country.
Puppies Under 4 months Old: If your puppy is returning to the US, any rabies vaccine he or she receives will not be accepted until 4 months of age (3 months, plus the 30 day waiting period). The CDC will decide whether or not to issue you with a confinement agreement. A confinement agreement allows you to keep your dog enclosed in an approved location of your choice (usually your home, a kennel, or vet clinic) without contact with any other dogs or people until your puppy is 3 months old. Then, you’ll get your puppy vaccinated immediately and continue to confine him or her in the same location for another 30 days.
Your puppy must wear a muzzle and leash during any necessary time spent outside, like the trip to the vet or going outside to potty. For any more questions about re-entering the US with your dog, the CDC has a great FAQ page that you can browse through.
Yikes! That’s quite a lot of stress on a puppy who would rather be outside playing, so consider your puppy’s personality and temperament before choosing to travel and return to the US before they turn 4 months old.
We hope this information helps you travel safely and smoothly with your furry friends. Happy travels!