Planning Alaska: Traveling With Dogs Through Canada

Alaska, Vanimal -

Planning Alaska: Traveling With Dogs Through Canada

Not unusual to traveling in a converted Mercedes Sprinter van (our Vanimal) for an extended period of time, is to bring your pets along.  And if you are like us we have not one, but two pooches adventuring with us - the max number of dogs in which you can bring into Canada! 

This brings the planning of our road trip to Alaska to the rules, regulations and tips on making it across the Canadian borders. 

THE GIRLS

Lilly is almost eight years old!  She is a Multipoo ringing in at about 12lbs.  She loves playing with the covers, is always smiling (under-bites do that) and enjoys digging in the dirt at the Jordanelle Reservoir in Park City, UT. 

Krikit will be two years old come March.  If there is one thing to know about Miniature Schnauzers it's that they like to talk a lot and take on the important role of guard dog.  Unfortunately for us, her 8lb profile might not help us out in the event of a real threat. 

CROSSING THE BORDER

United States > Canada

Obviously, having the right information prior to hitting the border will save a lot of time and headache.  To understand our border hurdles, you can catch by first reading Planning Alaska: Vanimal's First Trip

We have gathered as much pertinent information as we could, pulling it straight from the "official" Canadian government websites. 

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It is highly probable that the dogs and any related items will be inspected.  Rest assured though, that there are no fees associated with the inspection on domestic dogs coming from the United States (according to the site, of course). 

VACCINATIONS

Microchips/tags are not required for your dogs in bringing them across the border.  However, vaccination records are and RABIES is the name of the game.  Straight from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website, your rabies certification is required for dogs 3 months or older and must:

  • be written in English (or French)
  • be issued/signed by licensed vet
  • include breed, sex, color, weight
  • literally state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies
  • state the date of vaccination
  • state the trade name/serial number of licensed vaccine
  • specify duration of immunity (how many years)

*Another great resource: USDA

FOOD

So, this all makes perfect sense.  Strict food regulations are in place to keep disease out of a country.  When traveling, you may bring "a" personal import of dog food provided the following:

  • "the" personal import of food is no more than 20kg (about 44lbs)
  • the food must be in original, commercial packaging (no ziplocks!)
  • pet eating the food must be with the traveler at time of entry
  • only the pet traveling with its human is eating the food (so, don't get weird)

When reading the in-depth policy about pet food import, we noticed that the regulations specify unopened packaging.  To this effect, we plan to bring two unopened 4.5lb bags of our preferred dog food - one for entering Canada, the other for entering Alaska.  Once we understand the expectations at the borders, we will shop for new, unopened dog food in Alaska. 

Another note to keep in mind is that Canada does not allow food or treats of bovine-origin, unless they fall under specific exemptions.  Those got a little confusing for us and our girls eat chicken.  So, if you need to read up on the bovine stuff, click here and check out section 10:A:i.

Canada > United States

One cannot forget about getting back into your homelands!  For us, this means entry into Alaska as well as back into the mainland on our return trip.

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VACCINATIONS

The rules for getting the dogs back to U.S. territory are similar to those for Canada.  One big difference is that you cannot bring a dog younger than 4 months into the U.S. from a foreign country.  While this does not pertain to us, it might be important for others!

Your rabies certificate still needs to include:

  • dog's (all) description: breed, age, sex, color, special marking, etc.
  • date of rabies vaccination
  • expiration date of vaccination
  • the vet's signature

Something else that is different and interesting: even if your dog is not up-to-date with their rabies - but has been vaccinated before - the U.S. allows you to get your dog a booster vaccination before crossing the border without having to wait any kind of grace period.  If in fact your dog has received their very first rabies shot, you must wait 30 days before you will be allowed into the U.S.  Those are important factors for people with puppies. 

FOOD

Also similar to Canada, food must be of Canadian or U.S. origin, unopened and commercially packaged.  While there are no restrictions to products containing bovine in entering the U.S., pet food containing lamb, sheep or goat is prohibited.  Weight is not specified, but considering Canada's rules, we should be set with the additional small bags we will purchase in Alaska. 

OUR PERSONAL SUGGESTIONS

FOOD

Provided all of that great information in transporting dog food across the Canadian border, let's fill you in on our preferred dog food and why it's beneficial for this specific trip. 

After having worked in the dog food distribution industry, I (Kayla) have learned a thing or two about quality pet foods and what the gibberish means.  Without getting nerdy and off track, I will simply state that Lilly has been on the Acana diet for all of her 8 years, and Krikit has since picked it up as well. 

Why did I mention this brand is beneficial on this trip?  Well, it's a Canadian product (sort of)!  Acana falls under the Champion Foods product line which is based out of Alberta.  However, produce and other ingredients are sourced - and the food is manufactured - in the U.S.  Either way, we hope to score some brownie points for our choice in dog food, encouraging a smooth border crossing. 

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Acana is one of those "rich" dog foods that are filled with the good stuff (truly) and without the fillers.  This brand also offers a great variety of bag sizes, which is also a win for this trip considering the border crossings!  You won't find this at your local Petsmart or Petco.

TOYS

Let's be real, you shoulnd't need these.  Between driving and being outdoors, the dogs should be exploring and having their own adventure!  They can play with toys at home...

But, in the event you travel with some just in case, we too have been through a gargantuan amount of dog toys; testing and striking out.  Low and behold we found a brand that is AMAZING, specifically for the smaller dogs.  Clearly, we are not the experts on "big" dog toys.

Check out the Cycle Dog Duraplush items.  The toys without stuffing are immaculate for durability and longevity.  We even had the crab (stuffed) for nearly a year before Krikit tore out the guts.  Give one a go, we dare you...

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BEDDING/CRATES

Last, but not least let's cover the bedding and crates.  Do we even need crates?  Probably not.  We just figure it's better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

Through thorough crate-researching efforts, a couple years ago we found the EliteField 3-Door (Mesh) crates.  They are a soft structure, foldable - for easy mobility, and extremely lightweight.  The straps are convenient for adjusting and carrying!

Though the EliteField crate comes with a fuzzy, padded bottom, we like to throw a cozy blanket or two in for the girls.  Nothing funnier than watching your dog "make" their bed...

Still, we are checking out a pillow-style bed that is big enough for both of the girls to fit on.  While Krikit does not like to share, she might figure it out.  We may follow up on this post-trip.

ANTICIPATING THE MOST...

While we are stoked to go on this long adventure through states and provinces we have never seen, there is one things we are most excited about:

Seeing the dogs dig!

Let's face it, small dogs aren't always known for getting out there, exploring and putting dirt up under their fingernails.  But, once upon a time we witnessed Lilly doing just that on a camping trip and it was miraculous.  Cameras will be rolling...

Making sure the dogs are set on a trip like this is just as important as packing baby wipes as an adult.  Please feel free to leave us some thoughts of your own in the comments below! 

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