Heading into the U.S. or returning to Canada with Fluffy or Fido?  This article is aimed at providing pet owners with information on what pet-related issues might arise at the border crossing.  This article is meant as a guide, and although you may not always be asked for all this information, you should be prepared in case you are asked.

First, identification via a tattoo or microchip is not mandatory but is strongly advised just in case you become separated from your pet while away. A microchip and a visible tag are best.

A Rabies vaccine is necessary for crossing the border. You will need proof in the form of a Certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian. The vaccine should have been given at least 30 days before crossing into the U.S.  This Certificate needs to include a detailed description of the dog including color, breed, sex, age, microchip information (if present) and markings. The Certificate will also give details about the vaccine given. The Rabies vaccine Certificate will indicate if it is valid for one or three years.

Special note:  A puppy younger than 12 weeks-old will not be allowed to be vaccinated for Rabies so no Rabies vaccine Certificate will be needed.

Travelling back into Canada has similar requirements.  Dogs over 12 weeks will need proof that a Rabies vaccine has been administered (i.e. a Rabies vaccine Certificate) and a tag to identify the dog.  The one difference from the U.S. requirements  is that a Rabies vaccine does not need to be given within 30 days travel, the vaccine is valid the moment it is given…..no 30 day waiting period.

A Health Certificate will be needed as well to bring your pet across the border;  your veterinarian can supply this upon request.  If travelling by airplane it is best to ask the airline what additional requirements will be need to be met before you travel.

Pet Food

Bringing pet foods across the border into the U.S. has its own set of regulations, due to concern over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE,  or mad cow disease).  Pet foods of Canadian origin (fresh, frozen or chilled, cooked, canned or otherwise processed products) that  contain beef, veal, bison, and cervid (e.g. deer, elk, moose, caribou etc.) are now permitted when crossing the border from Canada. However, products containing sheep, lamb, or goat will not be allowed entry. The traveller must provide proof of the origin of beef, pork, poultry, cervid meat, and pet food in order to bring them into the United States. Examples of proof of origin include the grocery store receipt where the product was purchased or the label on the product indicating the province in which it was packaged.

Pet foods that do NOT have these ingredients can be taken across the U.S./Canada border as long as they are in their original packages and the ingredient list can be read clearly.  Any pet food in non-labeled packages may be confiscated.  These regulations apply to both canned and dry pet foods.

When returning to Canada, you may bring your pet’s food  (limit of 20 kg) into Canada, if the import meets all of the following requirements:

  • The pet food or product must be of United States or Canadian origin and be commercially packaged (i.e. not re-packaged into plastic bags or other containers).
  • The pet food or product must be in the possession of the traveller at the time of entry from the U.S.
  • The pet that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveller at the time of entry.
  • The imported product is fed only to the pet that accompanied the traveller into Canada.

Regulations can be modified at any time, so please contact the relevant agencies prior to travel:

U.S. border crossing information can be obtained or updated from the following sites.



Returning to Canada

Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Pet Food Imports ( http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/petfaani/petfaanie.shtml )

Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Pet Imports ( http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/imp/petani/petanie.shtml )

Canadian Border Services agency 1-800-442-2342 (N.B. region 506-452-4963)