How to Travel to Canada by Car with a Dog

By Jae Allen


It can be sad, and expensive, to put your dog in boarding while you travel. Traveling by car allows you to set your own schedule, and you can easily drive to Canada with your canine buddy as a traveling companion. Family pets are not the only dogs commonly crossing the Canadian border in their owners' vehicles. Sled and hunting dogs often cross from the U.S. into Canada, either from the Lower 48 or Alaska. Driving into Canada with your pet dog does not require any more documentation than you should carry with you when you drive with the dog between U.S. states. The only difference is, you are certain to have to produce the documents when you cross into Canada.

Step 1

Check the expiration date on your dog's rabies vaccination. To cross the U.S.-Canadian border with a dog, you must have a valid rabies certificate that is less than 36 months old. If your dog's most recent rabies vaccination is expired or its date is unknown, update her rabies vaccination well before your trip to Canada. The rabies certificate must identify the manufacturer, serial number and exact date of the rabies vaccination, and a description of your dog. The rabies certificate can be issued by a veterinarian based in the U.S. or Canada. Seeing-eye dogs can travel into Canada without restriction. A Canadian Border Services agent will look at your dog to make sure she matches the description on the certificate. The agent also will visually inspect the dog for signs of illness.

If you are driving into Canada with a dog for breeding or commercial purposes, the dog must be microchipped.

Step 2

Practice taking car rides with your dog regularly if she is not already accustomed to accompanying you when you go places, so that she will not be upset or surprised by the trip to Canada. It is best for your dog to travel on an empty stomach if she's not a ride-along veteran, as this will minimize the risk of car sickness. For safety, your dog always should be in a crate or safety harness when she rides in the car with you, but if you ignore that driving principle, crate or enclose her before you reach the border. If you are stopped at the Canadian border and have to enter the building, either take your dog with you on leash, or leave at least one person in the car to watch over her.

Step 3

Practice using a pet barrier, travel crate, pet car seat or pet seat belt in the weeks before you travel to Canada, so you know it will be comfortable for your dog. Allowing a dog to roam freely through the vehicle while you are driving can be dangerous for you, your passengers, and the dog. An unconstrained dog can be badly injured or killed if you are involved in an accident. A loose dog can at any moment distract a driver or interfere with driving, leading to an accident.

Step 4

Inform the Canadian border agent you have a dog in the car. The agent may ask to see a valid rabies certificate for any animal over the age of 3 months that is not a service animal. A dog cannot enter Canada unless accompanied by his owner or representative.
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