- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Canada, our neighbor to the north. Land of Whistler, Parliament Hill, and Ryans Gosling and Reynolds. It’s true what they say about Canada: the people are friendly and the sights are incredible. And, lucky for a dog lover like me, Canada is a pretty dog-friendly place. Two breeds of dogs—the Labrador and the Newfoundland—are named for regions of the country.
We live in Maine and love traveling to Canada—especially Quebec. Even though it’s only a five-hour car ride away, arriving in Quebec City is like being transported to an old European city. With so many nearby parks and delicious places to eat, Quebec is a great destination. And when the summer heat gets too much to handle, a trip up north is a welcome relief. But is it right for my dog Ketchup?
Like I do in many aspects of my life, I ask myself one question: What Would Meghan Markle Do? Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, is famously a dog lover. While she was working in Toronto filming Suits, she frequently brought her dogs Bogart and Guy to-and-from the United States. I know that as a dog lover, she would’ve made sure that Bogart and Guy had all they needed to make the trip safely.
First Up: How Are You Going to Get There?
Living in Maine means that we can drive to many spots in Eastern Canada. Ketchup is great in the car, and we always make sure to follow the ASPCA’s tips on keeping him safe in the car.
If we wanted to bring Ketchup to Western Canada, that would be a different story. Since Ketchup is a pretty large dog, we’ve never taken him on a plane, nor do we plan to. The ASPCA does not recommend flying with large dogs, as they have to go in the cargo section of the plane. Traveling in the cargo section of a plane can be really anxiety-inducing for a dog. If you have no other choice but to fly, try to book a direct flight.
Our local airport doesn’t have a lot of long-haul flights, meaning that air travel really isn’t right for us. We could make it to Toronto, but not far enough to let Ketchup jump in British Colombia’s snow. I’m disappointed by this, trust me. I’d love it if Ketchup could pick up some sledding tips.
If you and your vet agree that airfare is an option for your pet, make sure to check out all of Rover’s tips on how to travel in an airplane with your dog.
Next Up: Chat With Your Vet
First and foremost, you need to make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel. This is especially true if you plan on taking a plane to Canada. Within 30 days of travel make an appointment with your vet to discuss your options and make sure you have all the proper paperwork.
This paperwork is pretty simple. You need your vet to provide you with documentation that certifies your dog is up-to-date on their rabies vaccine. Your vet’s certification must:
- Identify your dog by breed, color, gender, and weight.
- State that your dog is vaccinated against rabies, identify the name and serial number of the vaccine and specify the date of the immunization and the duration of the immunity.
- Be signed by a licensed veterinarian.
Read the Fine Print
Actually, you don’t really have to because we’ve done the research for you. Here are some other details to consider as you think about whether or not you should bring your dog to Canada with you.
- Unlike many other nations, Canada does not quarantine pets upon arrival.
- According to the Canadian government, upon entry to Canada, you must prove that your dog is up-to-date with their vaccinations. If your dog is less than three months old, they don’t require proof of the rabies vaccine, but you will need to prove your dog’s age.
- If your dog is more than eight months old, Canada does not require them to be microchipped. However, microchipping is a safe way to help reconnect you with your dog should they ever get lost. Since you’re considering traveling to a foreign country, it’s a good idea to take all the safety precautions you can.
- Since you’re coming from the United States, there’s a good chance that the Canadian Border Authority will allow you to bring your pet’s food with you. Make sure you check that your dog’s food meets all of Canada’s requirements.
- Upon arrival, the Canadian authorities will need to inspect your dog. This inspection involves checking your dog’s paperwork and making sure your dog shows no visible signs of illness. This inspection costs $30.00 plus tax for the first dog. An additional $5.00 plus tax will be assessed for additional dogs.
- Two’s company, three’s a crowd: Canada does not allow travelers to bring more than two dogs at a time.
Where Are You Going to Stay?
Like with any trip, do some research on where you should stay. Canada does have a lot of pet-friendly hotels and vacation rentals. But before you book a place to stay, make sure you look at options around your accommodations to make sure that there are dog-friendly parks or woods nearby. It’s not fair to your dog to bring them all the way to Canada to then keep them cooped up in a strange house or hotel room.
Treat Them Like Royalty
Like Meghan Markle, I have to put the needs of my Ketchup before my own. It’s been widely reported that when Markle made the move to her new life in the United Kingdom, her vet advised her that Bogart was not healthy enough to make the journey. I can’t imagine what that decision must’ve been like for Markle, but ultimately, she rehomed Bogart with some good friends.
If my vet told us that travel wasn’t in Ketchup’s best interest to take a long trip, I’d do what’s best for him and hire a Rover pet or house sitter to take care of him. Because at the end of the day, I want Ketchup to feel like royalty. And sometimes that means leaving him in the comfort of his own castle.