Holiday pet travel

The holidays are for family; and for many, pets are part of the family too. If you’re considering bringing your pets along to visit family or friends outside of Canada, there are some things you’ll need to know before leaving the country.

pet travel outside of Canada
It’s important to know the requirements when travelling with pets by land, air or sea

Requirements for pets leaving Canada

Before you go, make sure your furry friends are properly registered, particularly if you’re flying with pets. Also check the Government of Canada site to see if your dog or cat requires a Canadian International Health Certificate.

If you’re travelling with an exotic pet (including lizards, parrots and hybrid cats), you may need a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permit or a “pet passport”. Unregistered pets won’t be accepted at the airport, and some airlines have their own pet registration deadlines to meet before booking travel.

Lastly, ensure you have clear identification on your pet’s collar as well as their carrier. Make sure your home and destination addresses are both included.

Flying with pets

Before you book your flight, check which airlines allow pets in the cabin on international flights. Also make sure to check size and weight restrictions for your pet and their carriers. All pet-friendly flights have a maximum pet allowance for onboard and checked baggage. So this is especially important to check for flights during the holiday season!

Air Canada, WestJet, and Porter all have detailed information to help you plan accordingly. They all have extensive instructions on how to book pet travel in the cabin, baggage or cargo areas, as well as the costs associated with it.

Driving to the USA with your furry companions

If you’re road-tripping across the border, the requirements to bring a dog or cat into the US can differ from state to state. When you cross the border, your pets will be examined for diseases that could be transmitted to humans. Dogs must have their rabies shots up-to-date (while domestic cats aren’t required to).

Have show dogs? Read on for tips on how to avoid stressful travel situations when crossing the border to the US in “Travelling with Show Dogs”.

cat travelling in carrier
Your pets are family, so keep them safe and protected in carriers that are fit for travel

Train travel with dogs, cats and small rodents

Taking the train can be a great alternative to flying or driving with your pets. The important thing to note is that each rail company is different, so be sure to do your research before booking.

If you’re travelling on Via Rail with pets, there are very specific requirements. For example, only dogs, cats and small rodents are allowed. These pets can’t be in the passenger cars, only the baggage car, and can only travel during certain times of year, due to lack of air conditioning.

Travelling with pets is welcomed on Amtrak. Dogs and cats under 20 lbs are allowed in Coach Class, but not sleeping cars or Business Class. Pets are to be with you at all times, inside their carriers. You’ll also need to complete a pet release before booking. Interestingly, Amtrak is in the midst of a pet pilot program to increase long-distance services across the USA, which could help during the crazy holiday travel season too!

Pet insurance and protection

As expected, it’s important to add your veterinarian visit to your to-do list for a check-up and any vaccinations needed. You may want to consider pet insurance, but you’ll want to consult your vet and insurance broker to explain the coverage benefits.

Also check with your insurance broker if buying travel insurance for you and your furry friend is an option. For instance, with TuGo, if something were to happen to you on your trip and you needed to be returned to your home province, you’d have coverage for up to $300 for the return of your accompanying pet.

Lastly, you know your furry companions best; prepare to make them comfortable, whatever mode of transportation you’re planning to take. Travel can be pretty stressful for them too; take care to bring extra food, a collapsible water dish, toys and blankets, and perhaps even clothing, to comfort and keep them at just the right temperature.

Happy holiday travels,


What You Need to Know When Travelling with Pets Outside of Canada

Dec 18 2017