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  • Georgina D'Angelo

Crossing the Canadian Border with a Dog: 5 Things You Need

Updated: Aug 14

A Complete Guide to Taking a Dog to Canada from the US

crossing the canadian border with a dog

This article may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through one of them. Alpacka My Bags is by no means responsible for any products or services purchased with any third-party provider.


Canada is a vast country, made up of 13 provinces, each unique and worth exploring. If you’re a fellow US resident, then you simply have to visit Canada at least once. Especially if you live in a northern US state, driving to Canada is actually a great option. But the best part? Your dog can go to Canada with you!


If you’re planning a trip to Canada and you want to bring your dog along for the adventure, stay tuned for the details on taking a dog to Canada. It’s really not that difficult, you’ll just need to make sure you have all the right paperwork for your dog and yourself.


Crossing the Canadian border with a dog might seem like a scary feat, but if you have plans to return to the US, you have all the right paperwork, and you have a permanent US address, then you and your dog should be a-okay to drive into the great country of Canada. But let’s get to the nitty gritty so you can ease your stress. By the way, we'll cover Canada's government rules, and then our personal experience of crossing the Canadian border with a dog.



Crossing the Canadian Border with a Dog


What do you actually need when bringing a dog into Canada? First of all, you, as a person, will need your passport. No one, not your or your dog, will be getting through the Canadian border if you don’t have your passport! So do NOT forget your passport, this is your reminder. Continue for details on taking a dog to Canada.


1. Take your dog to the vet before you leave


It’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet to get any vaccines updated, and to just get an overall check up. If you have a senior dog, or a dog with special needs, your vet may have advice for taking your dog on a long trip. You also don't want to struggle to find a vet appointment last minute in another country, so play it safe and get your pup check before hitting the road.


2. Get a signed rabies certificate


This is a necessity for getting across the Canadian border. It is essentially your dog's passport to get into Canada. For dogs older than 3 months of age, you will need a signed rabies certificate when crossing the Canadian border with a dog. It must state the duration of the vaccine (i.e. 1 year or 3 years), vaccine serial number, and contain your dog’s breed, age, weight, sex, and color.


It also needs to be signed by a licensed veterinarian, which is where you will get this certificate. If you don't have a rabies certificate from your dog's most recent vaccination, just ask your vet for a copy, or see if your dog is due for another vaccine. If your dog is younger than 3 months, you must have proof from a licensed vet stating its age (no rabies vaccination required).


3. Carry your dog safely in the car


Your dog must also appear healthy and safely transported in order to be admitted into Canada. If your dog appears sickly, or if it being transported in an unethical, unsafe fashion, there is a high chance they will not allow you or your dog in.


Always make sure your dog has enough room to comfortably lie down in the car. You can keep them on the back seat, but make sure they are buckled in. People must wear seatbelts for safety, so make sure your dog has one too! Check out this handy dog seatbelt if you need one.


4. Follow dog food restrictions


You are required to bring unopened dog food across the Canadian border. It must be commercially packaged and originally from the US. It must be accompanied by the dog and the dog owner, and specifically for the dog you are bringing with you. This goes for wet food, pumpkin, or any food that may be part of your dog's diet.


This is an important thing to remember; you don't want to not have your dog's food, especially if they are on a special diet or are picky eaters. You might not be able to find their favorite food in Canada.


5. Bring your dog’s vet records


To play it safe, it’s a good idea to bring a copy of your dog’s most current vet records with you. This is in case they have any more questions about your dog’s health status, breed, etc. It’s also a good idea to have these records on you in case you need to take your dog to the vet while in Canada. This way they will know your dog’s medical history and be able to treat them properly.


Shop Essentials for Driving to Canada With a Dog:




Crossing the Canadian Border With a Dog: FAQ


Do dogs need to quarantine when entering Canada?

If your dog is in good health, up to date on its rabies vaccine, and you have the proper documentation, you will not have to quarantine your dog upon arrival in Canada.


What do I need to cross the US border from Canada with my dog?

When crossing into Canada from the US, your dog will need a current valid rabies vaccine. I recommend bringing their latest vet records as well. This is more so for your own sake; just in case you needed to take your dog to the vet and they need their records.


You must make sure their food is a new, still sealed from purchase, branded bag. And they must be transported safely, i.e. in the backseat of your car not tied to the roof rack.


Can I bring my dog across the Canadian border?

Yes, assuming you meet the above requirements, you can bring your dog across the Canadian border. Some provinces have their own regulations, so you might run into a breed restriction. This is sadly generally for Pitbulls, Terriers, etc.


From personal experience, we had no trouble crossing into Canada from the US with our 30-pound Pit mix.


brown dog sitting on bench under trees wearing a purple harness - crossing the canadian border with a dog
JoJo loved her trip to Canada

Taking a Dog to Canada: Our Story


So now you know crossing the Canadian border with a dog isn’t so scary! As long as you have the required documents (rabies certificate) and are following the dog food restrictions, you should be golden. If you have more questions, head over to Canada’s Government website for the most current requirements. Above are the rules we followed, and we were thankfully allowed across the border with no issues.


But let’s get personal. Based on experience, they might not always check you on everything. When we crossed the Canadian border from New York into Quebec, we showed them our dog’s rabies certificate, but they didn’t look at our dog (she was laying down on the backseat). We also bought a new bag of dog food specifically for crossing the border, but they did not mention anything about her food (just about our personal belongings we were bringing with us).


So while we thankfully had it easy when crossing the Canadian border with a dog, we wouldn’t do anything differently next time, just to play it safe. There are also stories of people being denied because their dog is a Pit Bull mix. Thankfully, we had no issue with this when driving into Quebec, and our dog, JoJo, is a 30-pound Pit\Terrier mix.


While Canada technically allows Pit Bulls, some places will not let you in with one. For example, Ontario apparently does not allow any Pit Bulls, pit mixes, or any terrier mixes that resemble a Pit Bull. This is a downside of traveling with a Pit, but if you know where you’ll be crossing the Canadian border with a dog, just look into the specific laws there. A simple Google search should tell you if Pit Bulls are allowed.


brown dog wrapped in Christmas blanket sitting in the back of a car - taking a dog to Canada
Getting Ready for Canada's Winter

Traveling with dogs is such a blast. It’s so fun being able to share an adventure with them, especially if they love it just as much as you. But traveling to another country with a dog requires a little more work, and that’s why we’re here! From personal experience, it’s so worth going the extra mile and getting the required documents for taking a dog to Canada!


There is so much to explore in Canada, and if you're a US resident. it's super easy for you to get to! Driving is a great option because 1) you can bring your dog to another country without having to fly them and 2) having a car to explore Canada is very helpful if you want to visit multiple places as it is such a vast country.


Have you ever traveled with your dog before? If your dog has been to another country, let us know in the comments. We’re always looking for advice on traveling with dogs as we want to help others accomplish it!


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We're Georgina and Nathan, two adventure enthusiasts and creators of Alpacka My Bags. We're here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 

 

We've been exploring this insane planet that we call home together for over 3 years now. After college, we knew the "traditional career path" was not for us, and honestly the "traditional life path", in general, just wasn't for us.

 

We needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer, it sounds cliché but you do only live once. So we made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that we wanted to share them with others so they can enjoy them too! 

Our passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join us, and often our dog, JoJo, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as we have, we hope you find our tips useful for any and all of your future travels.

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