An overview for bringing a dog in and out of Canada so you are properly prepared for travel.
Every avid upland or waterfowl hunter I know has a bird hunting trip to Canada on his or her bucket list, myself included. After a ton of research into every aspect of crossing the border with a bird dog (and shotgun) and getting back into the U.S., I thought I’d share what I have found.
What You Need to Bring a Bird Dog into Canada
If your dog is over 8 months old, bringing him/her through customs is quite simple. All you need is proof that a licensed veterinarian vaccinated your dog against rabies. For travel into Canada, the vaccine is valid on the day it is given. You can literally get your dog vaccinated, get the proof certificate, and then cross. The certificate should be signed, dated, contain a clear and detailed description of the dog outlining his/her color, breed, gender, age, and any specific markings. The certificate must also list you as the owner. Crossing with someone else’s pet gets a bit more tricky.
Canada does not require pets to be quarantined, nor do they require a microchip or tattoo ID. Dogs under 8 months of age may need an electronic microchip, but we are concentrating on dogs over 8 months of age.
Some dogs, especially if they look gaunt or ill, may require inspection by the CFIA at ports of entry. A CFIA inspector is rarely on duty and will be called when needed. If you feel that your dog may be subject to inspection, be sure to contact the CFIA in advance. Contacting the CFIA District Office at your port of entry is suggested. Long delays can occur if your dog needs additional inspection or testing — at the expense of the person importing the dog.
So long as your dog is over 8 months of age, is healthy, has been vaccinated, and you have the proper paperwork showing all of the info aforementioned, getting through should be seamless.
What You Need to Bring a Bird Dog back into the United States
American authorities require a signed, dated certificate showing that the vaccine was given at least 30 days prior to entering the U.S. Many brands of rabies vaccines take up to 30 days to take effect. Consider this when traveling to Canada and back. While Canada does not require the 30-day buffer, getting your dog back will not happen unless you follow it.
Additionally, information on the brand of rabies vaccine, the vaccine lot number, and the expiration date of the vaccine must be written on the certificate. Vaccine lot number is important. It is the sticker off the vaccine vial.
Limits on Bringing Dog Food and Maintenance Items
Dog food can be imported into Canada or purchased when you arrive. Like me, most of you would prefer to bring your own. You can bring 20 kilos (roughly 44 pounds) of dog food that was manufactured in the U.S. with you.
Maintenance items in your field kit should be gone through prior to your trip. Having anything in your kit that may be declared as a weapon should be removed, and any medications should either be declared or left home.
Have Bird Dog, Will Travel
That’s about it. Traveling to Canada with your bird dog is pretty simple and painless — as long as you have the proper knowledge and documentation. Now, head north and make a memory with your favorite pup!
Matt Breuer has been working in the outdoor industry for over 15 years, guiding, writing, promoting, volunteering, and working with several conservation groups. He’s on the Board of Directors of the MN Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, and is a recruitment and retention coordinator with RGS. He owns and operates Northcountry Guide Service & Promotions in northern MN. Link up with Matt by visiting www.northcountryguides.com .