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E-commerce, animal

Just because something is sold online doesn't mean it is approved to enter Canada or be shipped within the country.

The CFIA is responsible for safeguarding animal and human health by protecting:

How can you help?

DO follow our tips when adopting animals, and buying or selling animal products or by-products online.

DON'T assume that all animals or animal products available online meet CFIA regulatory requirements.

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Import requirements (including for puppies and dogs)

Canada has strong import requirements in place to prevent the introduction of serious animal diseases like rabies, which are also applicable to online purchases.

For example, imports of animal products and by-products, including foods of animal origin (meat, eggs, dairy, fish, and seafood), pet food, treats, chews, cow dung cakes, animal skins, hunting trophies, and other items are restricted or prohibited from countries where foreign animal diseases exist, such as African swine fever or Foot-and-mouth disease.

In the case of live animals, importers are responsible for ensuring the health of the animals in their care. They must also verify and follow all relevant import requirements before entering or re-entering the country. Additional animal health requirements apply to the import of puppies and dogs that are less than 8 months of age.

However, it is possible that animals imported to be sold or adopted may have been exposed to other diseases or parasites that are not apparent when they arrive, or where they are kept in Canada before being sold.

Regulatory requirements for animal health

Those who engage in an activity regulated by the CFIA are responsible for meeting applicable legal requirements under the Health of Animals Act, the Health of Animals Regulations and the Reportable Diseases Regulations.

This includes anyone who is importing, exporting or selling live animals, animal products or by-products – even if they are doing it on a small scale online from their own home.

Provincial and territorial or municipal requirements may also apply.

Additional information for shoppers and sellers

Here are more dos and don'ts for:


Other things to consider include:

  • Know who and where you are buying from. Do your research, particularly if the source is unfamiliar to you.
  • Check independent reviews of the seller and their products. Don't only rely on the reviews on the company's website.
  • Contact the company and ask questions if information about the live animal, animal product or by-product is unclear.
  • Be aware of Canadian import requirements. Importers who do not meet Canadian requirements may, among other things, experience delays at the border or have their shipment held at the border or removed from Canada.
  • Consult the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) checklist for a list of endangered species that are illegal to sell anywhere.

Other things to consider if importing, buying or adopting a dog:

  • Be cautious about importing a dog you have never met or when buying from an online broker in Canada so that you don't unintentionally support puppy mills, find yourself with a sick dog, or worse, face the heartbreak of having to euthanize your pet.
  • Don't assume the seller is legitimate. Before taking a puppy or dog home, you should consider asking for:
    • the vaccination records and other veterinary medical history
    • more information about where the dog was located before being offered for sale
    • information about policies on returns or assistance with medical bills if health issues are found after buying or adopting
    • If possible, ask to see the animal and at least one of the parents, even if virtually.
  • Be on time to pick them up or, if possible, make appropriate arrangements.


  • Verify that your live animal, animal product or by-product meets applicable CFIA requirements. This includes those that apply for the commercial import of puppies and dogs less than 8 months of age.
  • Use the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS), which provides the latest CFIA import requirements.
  • Obtain certification of the live animal, product or by-product to be exported where required.

Other things for sellers to consider include:

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