Ask the RV Vet
With Dr. Deanna Tolliver, M.S., DVM
Dear Dr. Deanna–We’re planning a trip to Canada this summer, and are wondering if we need any kind of permits to bring our pets (our dog Sissy and cat Murphy) with us. Thank you.—Grace H.
The short answer to your question is “no permits needed.” But, as with all things having to do with government legislation, the better answer is “it all depends.”
First, Canada makes a distinction between personal pets and those pets brought into their country for commercial purposes, i.e., to sell. The following discussion is limited to personal pets.
The requirements for both dogs and cats are that:
• they have a current rabies vaccination
• are personal pets
• are with their owners at the border crossing
For both dogs and cats:
• there is no quarantine period
• a health certificate is NOT required
• a microchip is NOT required
I found the above to be interesting because taking dogs and cats to Hawaii requires all of them!
Service dogs must be accompanied by the person they assist, and they must show service dog certification by a recognized organization (no specifics are given in the rules).
Puppies and kittens less than three months old are not required to have a rabies certificate (because they are too young for the vaccination) but they must show proof of age. However, if your puppy or kitten is over three months old when you return to the U.S., it must be vaccinated in Canada before it will be allowed back into the country. BUT! The U.S. requires that a rabies vaccination is given at least 30 days prior to entering the county.
This could be problematic if you take a puppy or kitten with you into Canada that is younger than 3 months. If you have the puppy/kitten vaccinated in Canada after it turns 3 months old, you cannot bring it back into the U.S. for 30 days after that. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has control over the regulations regarding animal importation into the U.S.
“Under limited circumstances, the CDC may issue an unimmunized dog permit. This permit allows unimmunized dogs into the U.S. when requested in advance and when certain conditions are met.” Seems to me it would be a lot easier to wait until the puppy received its first rabies vaccination at 3 months of age before you leave the country! Here’s the link to the CDC website.
HEADS UP! You cannot take a pit bull into Ontario; no exceptions are made for tourists, people moving to Ontario or military personnel, even those being transferred there. This law has been in effect since 2005. Under very limited circumstances, pit bulls may be allowed for dog shows and tournaments. CLICK HERE for the full regulations from Ontario.
All rabies certificates must contain the following information:
• name and address of the owner
• breed, sex, age, color, markings, and other identifying information of the pet
• date of the rabies vaccination
• vaccine product information (brand, serial #)
• date the vaccination expires
• name, license number, address, and signature of the veterinarian who administered the vaccine
Interestingly enough, cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination to return to the U.S. They are, however, subject to inspection at ports of entry and, if suspected to be ill, the owner will be required to pay for a veterinary examination (the same rule applies to dogs).
I use one of these dog “playpens” when we all need to be out of the RV for a few hours (for service, carpet cleaning, etc.). I really like that it folds up so small I can keep it behind the seat of my truck. There’s a removable mesh top that zippers on and off. The large size (48″ x 48″) easily holds my four little dogs, even with a couple of dog beds inside. There are two smaller sizes, as well. And it’s made of a “tent-like” material that easily wipes clean. Find it on Amazon HERE.
Canada also has regulations regarding taking pet food and treats with you across the northern border. Visitors may bring into Canada a personal import of pet food (limit of 20 kg) if the import meets all of the following requirements:
• The pet food or product must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged.
• The pet food or product must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry from the U.S.
• The animal that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveler at the time of entry.
• The imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada.
Pet birds can also be taken into Canada under the following conditions:
• The bird must be with the owner or a member of the immediate family at the border crossing.
• The bird must be healthy and may be inspected at the port of entry.
• The owner must sign a declaration stating he/she has owned the bird for at least 90 days, as well as that the bird is a personal pet.
Because statutes, laws and other regulations can change, please be sure to check with your veterinarian, the CDC and the Canadian government before taking your pet to Canada. You don’t want your trip to the north to end at a border crossing.
Dr. Deanna Tolliver has been a full-time RVer for over 3 years, although she has been an RVer for several more. She travels with a fifth wheel and a 1-ton dually truck. Her travel companions include 4 small dogs and a 36-year-old Yellow-Naped Amazon Parrot. She has a BS and MS in biology and zoology, respectively, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She owned a veterinary hospital for many years and recently handed over the reins to a new owner.