Going on adventures and experiencing new places is one of life’s greatest joys. But it’s hard to fully feel that joy without your beloved dog. Friends of ours recently took their two dogs to Mexico and had an amazing time (lots of Instagram-able shots of their dogs playing ball on the beach!). I was inspired.
It’s not the first time I’ve thought about bringing my dog, Ketchup, on some international travel. I missed Ketchup so much that while on my honeymoon, I asked our pet sitter to send at least a photo per day. Because a romantic trip to Italy was great, but Italy didn’t have Ketchup.
My husband and I love to travel, and when planning a vacation, we always think about Ketchup—if he could come with us or if we should bring in a pet sitter. Our friends in Southern California who took their dogs to Mexico got us really excited about potentially bringing Ketchup south of the border.
However, there’s a lot to consider before bringing your dog to a foreign country, and I was glad I did my research before I made my travel plans.
How are you going to get there?
If you’re considering a pet-friendly Mexican trip, the first thing you have to do is decide if you’re going by car or by plane. If you’re traveling by plane, check your airline’s requirements for traveling with a pet. There are often limits on how many dogs can travel on a plane at one time, so you may run into issues here, especially around the holidays and spring break.
Rover has a lot of great resources on what you need to know before flying with your dog.
Since our friends live in California, they were able to drive their dogs right across the Mexican border. They checked in with the ASPCA and their vet to make sure they could safely travel via car with their dogs.
Since we live in Maine, we’d have to bring Ketchup on a plane. That complicated things. Since Ketchup is a pretty large dog, we’ve never taken him on a plane, nor do we plan to.
The ASPCA does not recommend flying with large dogs, as they have to go in the cargo section of the plane. Traveling in the car section of a plane can be really anxiety-inducing for a dog. If you have no other choice but to fly, try to book a direct flight.
Think about accommodations and activities
Once you understand how you’re getting there, you need to find accommodations that are pet-friendly. Not all hotels or house rentals allow pets. In fact, many of them don’t, and those that do may charge a fee.
You should also check to see what pet-friendly activities are available where you’re staying. Being away from their normal environment can be overwhelming for even the most happy-go-lucky dogs. If there aren’t things for them to do—pet-friendly beaches, parks, and other activities—consider if bringing your dog to Mexico is the right thing for them.
Next Up: Visit the Vet
Approximately 10 days before you travel, visit your vet to make sure your dog is okay to make the journey. Your vet likely knows what certification your dog needs to travel, but just in case, here’s what to ask for.
- Your vet will be able to assure that your dog is both up-to-date on all their vaccinations and is healthy enough to travel. Specifically, your vet will confirm that your dog is up-to-date with their rabies vaccine.
- If you’re taking a plane to Mexico, talk with your vet about how to help your dog on the plane ride.
- Ask your vet to fill out the proper paperwork (more about what’s needed below). You’ll need to show the Mexican authorities that your dog is safe to enter the country.
- The paperwork you need for your trip proves that your dog has all the vaccines they need to enter Mexico and is generally healthy enough to travel. You also need to prove that your dog has been up-to-date with their worm and flea/tick medication for at least six months. This requirement was implemented in 2017.
- At the vet visit, you’ll need your vet to fill out either the APHIS Form 7001 (pdf) Vet Health Certificate or an accredited veterinarian certificate (word document). In addition to whatever your veterinarian may charge for the visit, the USDA will charge a fee for APHIS Form 7001. There’s no fee for the accredited veterinarian certificate.
- Upon your return to the US, you should still have these forms handy.
The Fine Print
- Unlike many other nations, Mexico does not quarantine pets upon arrival.
- Mexico only allows a “reasonable ration” of food to be imported into the country, so make sure to do your research on where to get your dog’s food when you reach your destination.
- Mexico does not require your dog to be microchipped. However, microchipping is a safe way to help reconnect you with your dog should they ever get lost. Since you’re considering traveling to a foreign country, it’s a good idea to take all the safety precautions you can.
- Keep your pack small: Mexico allows you to bring in two pets per person and will charge additional fees if you’re bringing in more than two dogs at once.
Day of the Trip
- Make sure your dog is as safe and comfortable as possible. If you’re traveling by air, you’ll need a crate to keep your dog contained.
- If you’re flying, make sure you double check your airline’s pet requirements so you don’t have any surprises when you arrive at the airport.
- Remember the tips your vet gave you about keeping your dog safe during the trip.
While we were really excited about the idea of bringing Ketchup to Mexico, ultimately we decided it was best for him to stay home. As much as it pains me to admit this, some vacations or locations just aren’t dog-friendly and it’s important to put your pet’s needs first. In those cases, Rover’s pet and house sitting services are the perfect way to enjoy your vacation, knowing that your dog is safe and happy in his own environment.
And I know from experience that pet sitters love to think of fun ways to send you a daily photo.