Worried about bringing your pet to Mexico? Yep, I get it. When we were looking at other countries outside the U.S. as a possible place to live, if there was a quarantine for pets, I wouldn't even consider that country. That country was dead to me - haha. Are there good veterinarians in Puerto Vallarta? Well, yes.....and no. First, let me give you a little background.
When we arrived at our new home in Vallarta after driving from Chicago, it was in the evening. That was the first day. The second day our shipment of things arrived and we cleaned the house and unpacked. The third day, I asked for a vet recommendation and took my two greyhounds, Asha and Kai to meet him. I wanted to make sure they had a doctor and see if there was anything to watch out for in a tropical area in regard to pets. The vet was super nice and talked with us for forty minutes about pets and the area, including giving them each a physical exam. When we were ready to leave we asked how much we owed. 'Oh, nothing, I didn't do anything', the vet said. Uhmmm, WHAAATTTT! Honey, we're not in Kansas anymore!
A few months later, Asha (then 11 years), started peeing uncontrollably when she was sleeping - uh oh, urinary incontinence. My vet in the U.S. (Dr. Barbara Royal) offered to answer any questions I had for a year after we moved to Mexico - which was wonderful because she's an integrative vet and I'm very much into natural healthcare. She recommended a hormone, but it was NOT AVAILABLE IN MEXICO. This was my FIRST CRITICAL experience in Mexico with TNA syndrome - 'That's Not Available'.
tna . that's not available
I panicked. What do you mean it's not available? I felt helpless and lost. I tried many avenues and simply could not find what Dr. Royal recommended. If you grew up in the U.S., you can pretty much get whatever you want, when you want it (if you can afford it). You don't realize that this is a privilege not available in other countries. I decided to try what my vet in Vallarta recommended - Propalin.
At the same time, I met a Naturopath, Claudia, her company is Alquimiate (she works with people and pets). I reached out to her and she prescribed an essential oil and an herbal tea.
I tried Propalin with Claudia's natural products and right away there was an improvement. After a few months I started lowering the Propalin dosage until I removed it altogether and was only giving Asha the natural remedies and she's been healthy with no more urinary issues ever since! (Many more stories about the naturopath later!)
There's a stray animal issue in Vallarta - not as bad as I've seen in other countries and apparently it's a lot better in PV than ten years ago, but there are many stray cats in my neighborhood. One morning we were getting ready for work and I heard the worst noise, worse than nails scratching on a chalkboard - it was a loud gutteral scream coming from Asha. A stray cat had jumped into our back yard and Asha wanted to simply say hi, but the cat attacked. Greyhounds have one less layer of skin than other dogs, their skin is paper thin. Her shoulder was torn open. It was before the vet was open, but they immediately answered the emergency number and said to meet me at the office in 10 minutes. They gave her stitches and I was able to bring her home later that day.
A week later, we were walking our dogs and a car stopped nearby - it was one of our vets (Wolf's) - he wanted to check Asha's stitches - WHAAATTTT! We were stunned - we're very impressed with how much these doctors care. In addition, any time we took her back for a check-up or medicine, there was no extra cost, and it was a fraction of the cost for a similar surgery in the U.S.
On New Years Eve, the vet came to our house to check on Asha who was not feeling well. They make house calls!
So yes, there are amazing, caring knowledgeable veterinarians in Vallarta. But because I'm very much into natural healthcare, I was at first disappointed that there're no integrative/holistic vets here - until I found Claudia at Alquimiate. So I have the best of both worlds really - good veterinarians and natural options. My solution is to go to the vet for testing, surgery, checkups - and ask my naturopath for an alternative natural remedy whenever a medication is required. Claudia also has great supplements for pups.
Be aware of loose dogs when you bring your animals to Mexico. Some dog owners will let their dogs roam the streets and there're also stray dogs. So far the local dogs we've run into are friendly. On one occasion, we were walking our dogs and an Expat was playing with two dogs in an open area, dogs that I've never seen in the area - they were not leashed. One of the dogs was a pitbull and he ran over to Kai and grabbed his neck, then Kai was on the ground - it was a nightmare. Fortunately my dog was okay, but he did have some open wounds on his swollen and bruised neck. We found pepper spray, which is now attached to their leashes.
I'm a HUUUUGE BELIEVER of RAW DOG FOOD. I can't say enough about the importance of food for your dog, and Dr. Royal has written a book about that and other important healthy aspects for animals. She's seen dogs come back to life over and over when given the right food. Did you know that kibble has carcinogens because of the way it's made and because of the content - it also needs sugary starches and carbohydrates to bind it. Raw dog food can save your dog's life. Once we switched to raw there were incredible improvements in our dogs... Asha had runny stool but with raw it was perfect. They both had incredible nasty flatulence - once we switched to raw there was no smell. Their hair became shiny and their teeth healthy. I get it, there are many things that can cause cancer and I personally don't eat perfectly, but I believe this gives my dogs a healthy chance.
We brought our commercial grade grinder to Mexico since Todd made their raw food. However, since we're busy with two businesses, we found Brooklyn's Raw, a local guy who makes great raw dog food. His food is wonderful. Since I'm the crazy dog lady, I'm super particular about their food - so I add more veggies and fruits (since they need a bigger percentage as they age), and we dehydrate other healthy snacks with different types of meat and veggies for them, in addition to natural supplements from Claudia. Brooklyn's Raw has also started making natural treats!
housing and large dogs
There are many condominiums in Puerto Vallarta, and the majority of condo's do not allow large dogs if you're renting. Many do not allow large dogs even if you buy. For our first place, we found a house rental with a yard and pool, which was a good transition - as I really wanted my dogs to be able to feel the grass. It's not in the downtown area, but an easy 15 minute drive. (You may have seen our house and us on House Hunters International!)
What does my character Queen Mateefi say about bringing your pets to Vallarta?
In regard to the rules of bringing your pet to Mexico, the requirements can and will change often. We hired an immigration attorney to help us with the current rules for pets and us.
Have a burning question that I didn't answer about bringing your pet to Mexico? Leave a comment below, I'd be happy to answer.
xo Kathleen Naomi