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Photo by Jane M. Sawyer (Morgue File)

By Leslie, Carna4 Communications
Many dogs relish the car ride and extra family time that comes with vacations. Sooner or later though, hunger (or thirst) kicks in and you want to satisfy your friend without delay.

Start by bringing water from home for a dog that might easily get queasy drinking from an unfamiliar source. Likewise, if you’re travelling to locations where bottled water is a must for you, you may want to bring extra for your dog.

If your dog has a sensitive stomach or for your own convenience, it’s good to bring a supply of your own healthy food for dogs in case the local stores don’t carry your brand. You’ll likely want food that travels well and stays fresh. If your dog is on a home cooked or raw dog food diet, this may be the time to introduce ready-to-serve Carna4 well before your departure date, so you have a convenient real food option.

There are extensive regulations for importing pet foods into Canada or the United States. However, you can take food across the border without a permit, as long as it’s made in either country and is for your own dog (or cat)’s use. Even still, you need to follow a few rules to avoid a hungry pup or a U-turn home.

First off, keep the food in a small enough quantity to avoid suspicion (i.e., a little more than the amount of food your dog is likely to eat during your trip). And for bringing food back into Canada, the limit is 20 kg.

Be sure to keep your dog’s food sealed in its original package and ensure it clearly lists the ingredients. (Based on some dog bloggers’ unfortunate experiences, conveniently re-packaging food in plastic bags or other containers doesn’t appear to pass custom’s scrutiny.)

When crossing from Canada into the U.S.:

You can bring pet food (fresh, frozen or chilled, cooked, canned or otherwise processed products) that:

  • Contains bovine meat or meat products (beef, veal or bison), chicken, fish, pork or vegetarian products
  • Clearly lists the United States or Canada is its country of origin

You can’t bring pet treats/food (dry, canned, fresh, semi-moist or veterinarian prescribed) that:

  • Contains lamb, sheep or goat meat (For this reason combined with others, it’s best to avoid bringing foods with “meat” meal in them, as it’s difficult to prove that the mystery meat is not lamb, sheep or goat.)
  • Originates from a country outside of the U.S. or Canada

For more details and specific wording, visit the Pet food from Canada section on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection site.

When crossing from the U.S. into Canada, you can bring food for your pet’s own use, as long as it is…

  • Of U.S. or Canadian origin and commercially packaged to indicate as such.
  • In the possession of the traveler at the time of entry from the U.S.
  • The dog or other animal that will eat the imported product is with the traveler at the time of entry.
  • The imported product is fed only to the dog/animal that entered with the traveler into Canada.

Although there may be some exceptions, pet food from all countries other than the United States or Canada is generally prohibited.

For more details and specific wording, visit Canada’s section on pet food or the Pet Food Program to learn more about bringing pet food into Canada.

The exception to this may be travelling to British Columbia, as a February 2011 post on Dog Jaunt suggests you can’t bring pet food containing beef products into that province.

These are the general rules as they stand today but banned products can change, especially if there’s a disease outbreak. You’re best to check the US or Canadian Customs page before leaving because when it comes to dog food, it’s likely pretty easy for border dog to sniff out.

What about your experiences? How do you find food travels best? Have you found challenges bringing pet food into a specific state or province? If so, please tell us about it.