The Ultimate Guide:
Traveling with your Pet to Mexico
Moving to Mexico or even going for an extended stay doesn’t mean you have to leave your pet behind! Pet travel is stressful on both you and your pet, but there are many steps you can take to make this process as easy as possible.
This is a step by step guide to preparing your pet for traveling into Mexico:
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian
Pets traveling into Mexico are required to have:
- Common vaccinations (DHLPPC + Rabies)
- Preventative treatment of fleas, ticks, worms and parasites
- Health certificate
- Get a heartworm test and medication for your dog. Heartworm is prominent here in Mexico
- Refill all needed prescriptions before arrival, bring extra
- Have contact with a Veterinarian in Mexico in case of emergency when you arrive
- Get your current veterinarians email in case you need to send information back & forth for review
Make sure you tell your veterinarian about your planned destination and ask what additional vaccines they recommend for traveling in that area.
Almost all flights and destinations require dogs and cats to have had at least two rabies vaccines. If your pet has never had a rabies vaccine, it will need to be boostered at least 30 days apart. Health certificates are required 10 days prior to travel.
Before you leave for your flight:
- Documentation: Ensure you have all proper documentation to travel i.e. vaccinations and their certificates, your pets microchip number, a health certificate and anything else specific to you and your pet’s wellness.
- Plan Meals: Make sure your pet has had a solid meal prior to travel, but careful offering too much food during the flight as you want to avoid vomiting from motion sickness.
- Hydrate: Bring a small bowl to offer your pet water frequently on the flight. Remember flying dehydrates you and will dehydrate your pet as well. The stress of navigating an airport will likely stress your pet out some and cause panting, so be sure to offer them a drink at least once an hour. Careful giving too much water though, you don’t want any accidents on the plane. Use your best judgement; an accident on a plane is a way better alternative than a dehydrated animal. If your pet is flying via cargo, the airlines recommend you freeze their water so it will thaw over the duration of the flight and they will always have something to drink.
- Medicating: ALWAYS talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet any sedation medications when flying. Personally, as a veterinary technician who has consulted and worked directly with many veterinarians in preparing pets for flight, I highly recommend you DON’T do it. Medications can react to each animal differently in the air, and when you’re stuck on a plane over the ocean for 5 hours you do not want to have an emergency.
- Potty Breaks: Know where the potty break locations are at each airport before you arrive. Los Angeles airport has a nice little fenced area with grass, a fire hydrant and a bowl of water for pets inside the airport.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise: Before your flight, make sure your pet has gotten some exercise and tires out some so they are more inclined to sleep during the flight. Careful not to overdo it though as your pet will be stressed enough going through the airport, it’s just fact. Arrive early and offer as many potty breaks as you can before you get on the plane.
- Keep calm: Your pet will be looking up to you the entire trip, seeing how you react and mirroring your stress levels. Do your best to keep yourself composed. Try not to show your stress levels, keep your tone calm, offer lots of good pets and scratches, and if you don’t think it will upset their tummy’s, give them a small piece of a treat.
Checklist of items to bring with you on the flight
- Rabies Tags
- Identification Tag
- Microchip Number
- Service Animal Vest and Certification if applicable
- Both original copies of Rabies certificates if applicable
- Bring copies of all recent medical history & lab work
- Health certificate
- Kennel, if applicable
- Tiny treats in a zip lock bag
- Bowl for water
- A blanket from home for them to lie on and feel familiarity
Does my pet qualify to be a Service Animal?
For most dogs in the US, use the National Animal Service Registry, or in Canada use Service Dog Canada. These websites contain a list of hundreds of medical conditions that are approved for you to have a service animal, everything from migraines to seizures, and the training for your pet can be done right in your home – by you, and the total cost is about 150 USD.
However, keep in mind that your animal must have a certain easy going demeanor to be a successful service pet; otherwise the trip will be more stressful than necessary on both of you.
There is no way to prove that your pet is actually trained because they legally can’t ask your disability, so it’s all about the wording. When asked by hotels, flights, restaurants, or any other business what type of duties your service animal performs, you simply say they are trained as a Medical Alert.
Though most think you need a doctor’s note to gain a service animal, this is only a myth. If you are an American, the American Disabilities Act protects you form ever having to disclose your medical condition. This means when you complete the service animal registry, you agree that you have ONE of the many conditions on the list, and that your pet is trained to help you with this condition.
Legally, they cannot request any additional proof regarding the matter. It’s literally based on trust.
However, the service animal registries are a National service, meaning they are not usually recognized here in Mexico. But as long as you are using an American/Canadian based airline, you shouldn’t have any problems during flights.
Things to consider:
A service animal, emotional support or therapy animal are all very different. The service animal is the only one that allows your pet to fly in the cabin with you - out of the kennel, for free, and the only one that gets around pet deposits and quarantine fees.
With a service animal, you can never be discriminated against, charged deposits or asked to change whatever type of reservation you have, unless your pet is a public nuisance and terrorizing those around you.
Emotional support and therapy dogs are not allowed outside their kennels on flights, which kind of defeats the purpose of having them there, and legally you can be charged to bring them on a flight, in a hotel, etc. If you believe you qualify for the above description, go the service animal route.
The National Service Animal Registry and Service Dog Canada site will give you all of the documentation you need to travel with your pet. I recommend purchasing the service vest as well, the visual seems to deter a lot of confusion from businesses.
The NSAR/SDC will also give you an identification card for your service animal with their picture on the front (yes, it is as adorable as it sounds).
Printed on the back is a list of questions that businesses can and cannot ask, in case you ever run into someone who isn’t familiar with the laws. The only two questions you are allowed to be asked: Is this a service dog? What tasks does this service dog perform? Again, the answer is medical alert.
The service animal registry will save you money and stress when traveling with your pet, so look into it to see if you both qualify. Call the ADA, know your rights, and do the research. You and your beloved pet will be very glad you did.
Traveling with your pet can be easy and fun if you know how to do it right!
If you have any questions or concerns, need tips or advice on how to travel with your pet, send us a message! It is our pleasure to do everything we can to make your trip as low cost and easy as possible for you and your beloved family member.