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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dogs in Yucatán: Getting them here and keeping them happy

Resources abound to keep your four-legged companion happy and well cared for

Latest headlines

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Officially at least, the recovery has come earlier than expected. It was announced in October 2020 that the lost jobs would be recovered in roughly two years — but many are skeptical. 

Scientists discover a massive underground cave network in Yucatán

The cave system extends from the Chuy Ha Cenote, in the municipality of Kaua, to the Aktun Kaab dry cave, in Santa Rita — which is roughly 85 kilometers away in a straight line. 

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.
Photo: Maggie Cale

Taking your dog to Yucatán takes planning. Getting them here is one thing, and finding care for them once they’re settled is another.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Most dogs don’t like to travel but some preparation can make the experience less stressful for both of you. 

Here are some things to prepare for:

Photo: Courtesy

Pre-travel crate prep

Your dog will have to travel in either a soft or hard crate. The first option is comfier, but the latter is safer for a large dog. According to Air Pets International, three measurements must be taken: weight, height, and length, plus room for ears and snout. If you know the airline you will be traveling with, it is important to check their guidelines. After careful crate selection, practicing time in the crate is important, every day. If it is a small enough dog, practice walking with the soft crate on your shoulder. The movement may cause anxiety for your dog. Teaching your dog to feel relaxed and comfortable in the crate is key.

Hard crates can be safer for travel. Photo: Courtesy

Airline prep

Airlines are all different. When planning the trip, it is important to check your airline’s rules for dog travel. I found talking to the airline directly to be most helpful. Then make sure to write down the name of who gave you the guidelines for the flight. If your dog is small (up to 20 pounds) it can travel with you, but the soft crate must fit at your feet under the seat in front of you. If we’re talking about a bigger dog (up to 99 pounds) they must travel in the cargo area, if you’re flying Aeroméxico, for example. Speak to an airline agent if transporting an even bigger dog. 

Soft crates can be an option for smaller dogs. Photo: Courtesy

In the cargo area, it is a good idea to freeze water in a container and attach it to the inside of the crate so it slowly melts and provides fluids. Also, don’t add a bed, but rather a mat that will help absorb any waste. Check and double-check airline regulations online up to the day of travel. And check the weather. On Aeroméxico, if the temperature for the day is forecast to be less than 45 degrees or greater than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet will be refused transport in cargo. 

Don’t assume your preferred airline will even accept a pet onboard. In April 2021, United Airlines suspended all cargo pet travel. 

It’s not just the airlines to watch out for. At the Cancun airport, you have to stop at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Office after arrival. In the Merida airport, the veterinarian on duty checks your dog. Very late flights may cause a delay if there are no doctors on duty. Carrying a record of vaccines is advised but a health certificate is no longer mandatory if traveling from the US or Canada. As of today, you must show that your pet is free of parasites with a declaration from a certified veterinarian. According to the vet I had in the US, if these items are not in order, you will wait at the airport for a Mexican veterinarian to arrive and verify that your dog is healthy and parasite-free, at your own cost.

Grace Chu Photography

Dog food 

Upon entry to Mexico, you may only transport enough food to accommodate your dog for the first day of arrival. There are plenty of stores to purchase dog food in Yucatán, but if the brand you need is a little bit unusual it might take a few days to find it or order it. I found I needed to do some shopping around at stores or the vet’s office to find the right brand and flavor. However, I was able to piece together enough food for the first few days. 

Health and grooming 

There are numerous veterinarians in Yucatán and some of them speak English. “Make sure you take enough medications for a month, all vaccination records, take heartworm and flea and tick medicine if needed in the next month,” advises Dr. Jan Rosen, my vet in Washington, D.C. “Expect an adjustment period after the move. Make sure your dog has identification on its collar with a new address and phone number. Then as quickly as you can, connect with a veterinarian.” A simple meet-and-greet in your home will work and the veterinarians in Yucatán are used to this practice.

Even big dogs need their toys. Photo: Maggie Cale

Some area veterinarians

  • Dr. Julio Basulto Poot, Hospital Veterinario Planete Animal: home visits / office visits / emergency calls / carries lots of dog foods / grooming, 999-297-7341
  • Dr. Carlos Eduardo Perez Hernandez, Wags N’ Whiskers: home visits / office visits / emergency calls / dog food / grooming, 999-528-1167
  • Drs. Nelson Mis and Liliana Martín, My Vet: office visits / emergency calls / dog food / grooming, 999-688-1299
Yucatán is dog country. The rest of us just live here. Photo: Maggie Cale

Grooming at home

Show your groomer a picture of what you want and be there for at least the first grooming.

Once your dog is settled in Yucatán, dog training services are available. Photo: Maggie Cale


Some resources if your dog has some adjustment issues or needs training while in Yucatán:

  • Boop Puppy Training: Collette Kase is both a trainer and behavior specialist for your beloved dog. She has many years of experience in the UK and Belize. She now resides in Merida. facebook.com/BoopPuppyTraining
  • Club Manada Carina de Yucatán: Provides group dog training from basic obedience to advanced skills. facebook.com/clubmanadacanina
  • Rashid Cortazar Dog Training: Rashid provides individual classes or will come to your home. facebook.com/MayanPeek, 999-576-4518

Boarding or pet sitting

Once you are settled, sightseeing and travel — without your dog — may be on your bucket list.

You can choose someone to stay at your home as a pet-sitter / house-sitter or board your pet. My advice is to visit any place that you are considering boarding your dog and to get references and spend time with a pet sitter. Observing your dog’s interaction with the pet sitter is important. 

Some available resources:

  • Carla RoGo: will come to your house, meet your dogs and recommend one of her many services. Carla is personable and will either take your dog into her home or dog sit at your home. facebook.com/rogo.carla, 553-018-1965
  • Lesley Saunders-Beare offers dog sitting and doggie daycare in her home. She will pick your dog up from home. Lesley states, “My home is air-conditioned and all dogs are walked daily.” 999-107-6278
  • Annie Malia offers a dog-sitting arrangement in her home or yours. Bring their food and any comfort items. Special diets will be accommodated and walked daily. WhatsApp? +1 267-385-0310
  • Dog Club Merida offers a park-like atmosphere and socialization for your dog. They will do some overnights and other services. Discuss options with the friendly staff. facebook.com/dogclubmerida, 999-158-8044
  • Pampered Pets Merida offers a dog-sitting service in your home with playtime, daily walks, and someone will administer medication, adhere to feeding schedules and any other needs of your pet while watching your home. facebook.com/PamperedPetsMerida
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