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Crossing the Canada-U.S. border with your pet? Here's what you need to know

Woman kissing dog by skyline Woman kissing dog by skyline

Road tripping pet parents, this one's for you.

If you're planning an international vacation this summer that involves driving across the Canada-U.S. border, bringing your cat or dog along may be a simpler process than you think.

That's right, border-crossing with a pet doesn't have to be a bumpy road (metaphorically, anyways) as long as their paperwork is in order and their vaccinations are up to date.

Here's how to make sure you and your furry vacation bestie are ready to go international, this summer.

Husky dog with smiling vet Husky dog with smiling vet

Pre-trip prep

Thanks to Canada's close relationship with our nearest neighbour, crossing the border to the U.S. with pets in tow involves fewer rules and regulations than you might expect. With a dog, the strictest and most complicated step is ensuring your pup is up to date with its rabies vaccinations.

It's a good idea to check in with your vet to ensure vaccinations are up-to-date before you travel. If your dog has been vaccinated for rabies before and is just getting a booster shot, they're allowed to travel across the Canada-U.S. border immediately. For rabies vaccine first-timers, there must be a 30-day period between their first vaccination and their border crossing.

Technically, this means that pups under four months old can't cross the border since they must be three months old to get the vaccine and then wait the additional 30 days.

While cats aren't required to be vaccinated against rabies to cross the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, or cruise along the Clair-Fort Kent Bridge in Quebec, many states do require vaccinations for cats. Be sure to do your research and find out if an unvaccinated cat would be an unwelcome guest.

In general, pet requirements for crossing the Canada-U.S. border can be different from the requirements for travelling from state to state.

Boxer dog sitting in back of car with two women watching a laptop Boxer dog sitting in back of car with two women watching a laptop

Smooth sailing on four wheels

You wouldn't try to cross a border without a passport. Similarly, you wouldn't bring your pet to another country without the proper paperwork. Put together a travel portfolio for your dog that includes the following:

A current, up-to-date rabies vaccine certificate

This must include your own name and address, a detailed description of your dog (breed, age, colour and markings, sex), the date of their most recent vaccine and the date it expires, the brand and type of vaccine, and (finally!) your vet's information including their name, licence number, and address.

A recent photo of your pet

While it isn't required, it's a smart idea to also bring a printed photo of your dog or cat and a record of their microchip number. If they happen to get lost while travelling, it's helpful to have this information handy.

When in doubt…

Ask your vet, or visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website , for more information and to check to see if any travel restrictions are in place.

They can help you navigate any lingering confusion about pet travel and the paperwork required to take your BFF along on your next U.S. vacation adventure.

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