Tips for Traveling with Pets in Mexico

Tips for Traveling with Pets in Mexico

I've never taken a road trip with my pet before.
Do you have any tips on how to make the journey fun and successful for both of us?

Traveling with Baja Bound dogs Boomer and Fletch has taught us a lot about what kind of excitement you can anticipate when venturing south of the border with your pets.

For starters, it's never a bad idea to bring along a first aid kit designed for your pet. If your cat or dog gets a tick and you're no-where near a vet, this kind of a kit will help you to remove it yourself. You can typically purchase a first aid kit for your pet at your US vet's office.

Next up, and especially in Mexico, you should seriously think about putting your pet on a medicine that will help prevent heartworms. Dogs in particular pick up heartworms much more quickly and easily than you might imagine when they are running around in rural places.

If you're hoping to keep your pet with you in the hotel or motel, you may also want to consider giving it some flea control medication. This will make your stay (and the stay of future hotel guests) much more pleasant, especially during the warmer months!

Make a list of your pet's favorite (and most needed) things: leash, food dishes, food, water, treats, favorite toys, special blankets or boxes, plastic bags for cleanup, medicines, etc. Check it carefully before you leave to be certain that Rusty doesn't spend your vacation broken-hearted, missing his favorite rubber bone or tennis ball.

Keep your car air-conditioned, and make sure that your pet gets plenty of air. Don't forget to take a break every few hours at rest stops along the side of the highway, so that your pet can have a drink of water and "do its business."

Finally, DON'T leave your pet alone in a hot car - even if you are parked in the shade, with a window open. According to the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), on a hot day your vehicle can heat up to 160 degrees in a matter of minutes, which could have devastating or deadly consequences for your pet.

For further information, please read this article.

We usually go to Baja... but we're heading into mainland Mexico this time.
Do we have to fill out different paperwork to bring our pets along?

According to SAGARPA, an acronym for the Mexican government's Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación, and the USDA, in order to cross over the border into Mexico with pet dogs or cats you will need to carry an Accredited Veterinarian Certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian who has examined your pet no greater than 10 days prior to travel. View a template created by the USDA.

See our article Driving to Mexico With Pets for additional information.

Where can I buy food for my pet in Mexico?

The answer to this question really depends on your destination.

If you are going to one of Mexico's larger cities, particularly those in the north and central regions, you will be able to find large supermarket chains much like those in the US which will carry dry dog and cat food - although don't count on finding specialty brands. Some canned pet foods for dogs can be found as well, but not as frequently.

If you're searching for canned cat food, you might consider feeding your cat with cans of regular tuna fish which can be found at most markets. Cat's love tuna (which is likely safe if you get it in a can) and can survive on it very contentedly while traveling.

The store chains in major Mexican cities which carry pet food include Walmart and Gigante.

If you are planning a camping trip, or going to travel throughout smaller towns and villages, you should bring along enough dog food from home for your entire trip. You may also want to seriously consider buying bottled water for your pet to drink while you are traveling, since many dogs get sick when they drink water that they are not accustomed to.

Any suggestions on how to find hotels that will accept pets?

Visit Baja Bound's Pet Friendly Hotel Guide, featuring descriptions, photos and contact information for hotels, motels and RV parks from Rosarito to Ensenada that will warmly welcome you AND your favorite furry friends!
Listing of hotels in and around Ensenada compiled by Dr. Eduardo Diaz and Ellen Tousley of the Miramar Veterinary Hospital. (You'll need to scroll through the article to find the listings at the bottom of the web page.)
Pets Welcome offers information about lodging in various parts of Mexico including Cuernavaca, Ixtapa, Juarez, Mexico City, Quintana Roo, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, Tijuana, and Veracruz.

I've heard there are a lot of stray animals in Mexico.
Is there a risk that my pet could get rabies if I bring her along?

There is very little money for animal control in Mexico, which means that a lot of disease carrying stray animals roam freely throughout towns and villages. Since both the soil itself and these strays are covered in black ticks, try to keep your dog on its leash and away from strays at all times. If your pet comes into contact with (e.g. gets bitten by) a stray, gets a tick, or even eats tainted food which is often purposefully left outside to poison the strays, it can be difficult to find a well-trained veterinarian in some areas outside the cities.
Pets that are already in poor health have little immunity with which to fight foreign bacteria or infection, and thus run a higher risk of serious illness or death. All of this can be easily avoided, however, if you simply keep your pets on a leash and make sure that they are vaccinated before you enter Mexico. Speaking of strays, though ~ don't forget to make sure that your pet's ID tags are current, so that he/she isn't mistaken for a stray!

Article references:
Pets Welcome