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Bigthinkers

Prescription dog food and traveling across Canadian border

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We're still in the serious research phase of purchasing a motorhome and traveling for an extended period (at least a year, probably two, then we'll see where we are), and we'll be taking our Black Lab with us. She's on a prescription dog food for her sensitive digestion. Three questions come up around this:

1) We're pretty sure our vet will give us a prescription we can take into vets in other states to show Ruthie needs that particular food, but we're not sure how receptive vets will be to that idea. Has anyone done this, and have you been required to pay for an appointment before they'll sell you a bag, or do they accept the proof from your vet? It can be purchased on Amazon or at PetCo, with a prescription, too. Is that a better solution?

2) We'll be crossing the Canadian border at least twice, probably more. It is our understanding dog food containing chicken or chicken by-products can't be taken from the US into Canada. How do you deal with dog food when crossing the border? If you make sure you run out before you cross, then buy some in Canada, can you then take it back into the US (for example, going from BC into Alaska)? Or do you get a bit creative with alternative feeding, such as rice and cooked chicken or lamb while you're in Canada, if it's only for a couple of weeks?

3) What is a reasonable number of bags to carry with you in the motorhome? We were thinking of getting six 27lb bags before leaving home (about 8-9 months worth), but is that really just too much to lug around? Seems like a lot!

Thanks for any advice! It's last night's reason I was awake at 2am. Too many things to think about! :D

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Why carry the food with you? We keep an extra bag but order our food from Chewy. I don't know if Chewy does prescription dog food but someone does...............Just need to plan where to pick it up. Many cgs will hold packages for you. If not, you pick the pkg up from UPS or Fedex office.

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Have never heard of Chewy, so thank you for that. I've just checked, and they have the one we need, but it's about $20 more than some other places (which are about $10 more than we pay through our vet). We popped into PetSmart today, and they carry it if you have a prescription card, so that's a relief, but thank you for the heads up about Chewy. Always good to have options in case Plan A doesn't work!

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Let me warn you about Pet Smart. Each one doesn't necessarily carry the same prescription products. We learned this the hard way. Call before you go to any Pet Smart to see if they have what you need in stock. Also, when we had a prescription card it expired in 6 months. FYI.

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Since you said you can use Amazon, just use them instead of hauling multiple bags with you.  By now you should have a good idea of how long a bag lasts you.  If you really want a buffer, order another bag once you open a bag. 

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That's good info about the prescription card, SWharton. Thanks! We know they don't all carry the same items, so we definitely want a backup plan. Amazon might be the right choice.

Any info on crossing the Canadian border? How does that work with dog food?

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remoandiris, do you know how prescription dog food works when ordering from Amazon? Do they need the vet's Rx?

We usually get about 6 weeks out of a 27lb bag, so by ordering two we can store them in our airtight food container. It's big enough to hold two bags, and since we live in Florida we got one that wouldn't let in the humidity, so hopefully it should keep out pests, too. If we order two at a time, we'll have plenty of time to know approximately where we'll be when we need two more. We'll only have a rough plan, as we intend to stay and go as the mood strikes us.

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Well, they offer it as an item for sale, and it's definitely the stuff we use, so I'm guessing Yes. ;)

I just went through the ordering process up to Place Your Order, and it never asked for a vet's Rx. That said, it's nearly as much for one bag as we pay for two, so...probably only a last resort if all else fails, and I can't find rice or chicken to hold her over until we reach a PetSmart (meaning, it's not really an option).

Anyone know the rules around traveling into Canada from the US with dog food?

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Why would you think dog food would be a problem? Never heard of any problems or even asking if anyone had pet food. Most of the time they don't even ask if you have pets. General questions are guns and liquor(maybe).

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I've read on several forums that you can't take any chicken or chicken by-products into Canada from the US, and that includes dog food. I don't KNOW that it's true, since I've never done it, but from the threads I was reading it sounds like common knowledge. If border patrol sees you have a dog (according to several posters elsewhere) they'll confiscate any remaining dog food. A few people said their rig had even been searched when they told the agent they'd already disposed of the food. 

The stretch of border in question was out west, going from the US into BC. I've seen it on more than one forum, so I didn't think to question it further.

Have you done it?

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So, now that you've called it into question I've gone to the Canadian Import Policies page, and discovered 20kg of dog food are allowed in some circumstances (like, the dog has to be with you, which would be the case for us). That's about 2lb of food, which should see us through, if we don't linger. We'll just have to make sure that's the amount we have when we cross.

I'm glad you questioned it. I think we can make those requirements work.

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We have taken chicken cat food across several times with no problem. We have never been searched, some people have an attitude and raise the red flags. I also make sure DW is driving. I would take the food and if you lose it, you lose it. 20  kilos is not 2 pound but 44 lbs. 2.2 lbs/kg. That should be plenty unless you are planning a couple months in Canada. I think you are overworking this.

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Sorry to inconvenience you. :)

 

Just trying to do the right thing, and sometimes it's confusing for newbies. Sometimes you don't know what's important and what isn't until you start talking to people who've done it. Then, I guess, you have to wade through what to believe and what not to believe. I'm new at this, I want to avoid issues when possible, so I asked. My bad!

Edited by Bigthinkers

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I didn't mean it like that. Sorry. Thousands of people cross the border each year with no problems. You find the people who have problems are the ones that post so you think that is the "norm". It is not, 99.9% of the people have no problem crossing any border, especially Canada. 

Over the years we have crossed a dozen times. Once we answered the basic questions we were waved through. Going both ways...................

You are worried about going into Canada, what about coming back to the US, have you checked that?

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It's great to hear this won't be an issue, as other posts have led me to believe. One less thing to think about as I'm working my way through the thousands of little questions we probably all have or had when we're just learning about the lifestyle. :) 

I can't say I'm worried about it, I'm just working through all the issues relevant to us that I keep seeing on various forums, blogs, etc, and that was one of them. I wouldn't have given it a second thought if our dog didn't need a specific food that may or may not pose some problems when it comes to getting it. I cleaned up enough dog barf trying to find something she could eat when we rescued her, so this is one of those non-negotiables each of us probably has as we're figuring out how to hit the road for an extended period and emerge from it happy. ;) 

Thank you for your comments. Learning about real-life experience is priceless. 

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If you can find the food on Amazon make sure it is on the Canadian Amazon also. In Canada that is the Amazon you will be dealing with. Just FYI.

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Since we can take a fair bit over the border I'll just pick it up as needed at PetSmart or a vet's. A bag is only 27lbs (my error, obviously, on the 2lb thing. I was doing ten different things at once and only put 1kg into the conversion instead of 20. Total idiot moment). 

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The biggest problem you may have with ordering online is getting it through Canadian customs.  Assuming that it will *make* it through customs, it could take up to two weeks to get, so keep that in mind if you decide to order.

Since you need prescription food, I'd contact Canadian Customs before crossing to make sure they're not going to have a problem with it.  And -- keep the food in it's original bag...don't dump it in a container, even if that's what you usually do.

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Thank you for the link, SnowGypsy. They do have ours, and at a reasonable-ish price. :)

Good point, LindaH. The Canadian Imports site does say you'll have to prove where the dog food was made, so the original bag will matter. We do usually dump it in an air-tight container (Florida's humidity spoils everything).

Feeling confident this will be relatively easy. Thanks for all the insights. On to the next nagging question..........!

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