My dog wants to riot in Mexico!
April 24, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are moving to Mexico in August for a year. We are concerned about getting our dog there by air. Has anyone done this and what would you recommend?

Our dog is a 20 pound pug, he's small and I believe he'd fit in a flex cage that would fit under a seat (that much we've researched). We understand that for a dog to fly across the borders that it must have a clean bill of health 10 days prior to departure.

Our fear is if he has to be quarantined for a long period of time (days/weeks...not minutes/hours). He is considered our "baby" and we would be highly upset if split from him.

So could anyone give us advice about flying with a medium to small dog in the cabin (we will not, under any circumstances let him fly in cargo - he has breathing problems and would surely die) and what to research about transporting your dog abroad.

posted by Hands of Manos to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
A lot of airlines have weight limits for dogs in cabin- 20 lbs might be too large (I seem to recall the limit, with bag, being 10 or 15 lbs), you really should check with the airline you're flying.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:08 PM on April 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

I had a friend who, with her husband, just drove to Guatemala with her dog. (yes, DROVE. From Maine.)

She needed to get special papers from the Guatemalan consulate for it. I don't know if Mexico has a similar law, but contacting the embassy is likely to help. If you don't need anything, they can tell you. If you do, they'll be the people you need to talk to.

Flying with a dog in the cabin can be an issue, you will need to clear it with the airline ahead of time. 20 lbs is pretty large, that could be iffy.

I don't think there are quarantine laws there. They let my friend's dog through without any hassle at all, from what I understood. Nobody even looked at it.
posted by Malor at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2006

( I mean, nobody even looked at the dog at the Mexican border. I don't remember what happened at the Guatemalan border.)
posted by Malor at 2:14 PM on April 24, 2006

Basic googling reveals that you will need the following:
1. A vaccination certificate stating that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies, hepatitis, pip and leptospirosis.
2. An official health certificate that must be issued by a veterinarian no more than 72 hours before entering Mexico.

Doesn't appear that your dog will be quarantined. Definitely check with whatever airline you're flying about the weight allowed in the cabin and whether pugs are allowed to fly during August. (United, for example, bans all short-nosed dogs, including pugs, during summer months. This applies to the cargo hold, which I know you won't use, but other airlines may apply this ban to the cabin too.)
posted by meerkatty at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2006

Response by poster: meerkatty,

Just fyi: I have been googling and have found a wealth of information but I'd love to hear some personal information and advice that websites don't share.

But, THANK YOU for your helpful answers, that does eliminate more researching on our part.

We were going to leave at the end of more month won't kill us to wait.
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:29 PM on April 24, 2006

I asked about flying my pug last summer. He went underneath; it turned out fine, but the strain on my nerves means he won't be doing it again.

As to going in-cabin, my pug did that the first time we flew from Ontario to BC. However, he was just a puppy -- approximately 10-12 pounds -- and so he could be brought onboard in a special carrier bag. I suggest check out your local pet stores; we rented one from our local vet that was specially made to conform to airline regulations. I know both AirCanada WestJet require that the dog be allowed to stand up and move around in this bag. I'm thinking 20 pounds might be over the limit.
posted by docgonzo at 2:43 PM on April 24, 2006

I haven't ever flown with my dog - my boyfriend and I moved cross-country and we wound up renting a car and driving instead of flying because of this very issue - he was 26 lbs and too big to carry on.

We did take him to Mexico once, driving. Nobody even glanced at him on the way in or out, but we had read that we needed to get updated paperwork for him so that we could prove he was an american dog with all of his shots when we came back. I don't know if that's helpful for you or not - but my sense is that the Mexican government does not give a whit about the dog you're bringing in, and your only concern need be that you have him documented and vaccinated and paperworked to the hilt when you come back, because the US government might care a little more.
posted by pazazygeek at 3:26 PM on April 24, 2006

Your dog is not cargo! Do not let them put him under there. Not safe.
posted by radioamy at 4:44 PM on April 24, 2006

Your profile didn't load properly so I don't know where you're living now, but talk to your vet about how your baby will do in the heat of Mexico. As you probably already know, pugs have (rather noisy) breathing problems and sometimes heat intolerance.
posted by radioamy at 4:47 PM on April 24, 2006

I worked in a vet's office for a few years. I would recommend talking to your vet who can likely research and find out for you what you need to do for your dog as far as crossing borders and the paperwork required. Your dog may also need some vaccines that aren't part of his annual routine. The whole quarantine thing probably won't come up at all. If it does I do believe you can quarantine a dog in your own home- there just has to be verification (never really knew what the "verification" was though). Talk to the airline and see what they say about your dog. I'm sure rules are different for every airline. Do all the vaccines now- sometimes there are a series of shots and sometimes places want the dog to have had the vaccine for a week or more. Then take your dog to the vet within 10 days of your flight for one last physical and health certificate to fly. If he's perfectly healthy your vet can give him tranqs. if you think he'll be uncomfortable on the plane. None of this stuff may come up as you travel but its worth it if you want to aviod any problems.
posted by smeater44 at 4:47 PM on April 24, 2006

Get an official answer about what exactly is required by the Mexican government. Contact the embassy/consulate. Talk to an (immigration?) lawyer. Something like that.

Many airlines do not allow pets in the cabin during certain peak periods (e.g. Christmastime, spring break, etc.) so make sure your dates work out.
posted by winston at 7:47 PM on April 24, 2006

As for flying with a dog in cabin- I fly with my chihuahua (9 lbs) several times a year. I try to get her as tired as possible before the flight- make her she's all potty-ed out, then I just hope for the best. For awhile she had a bad skin condition, and during those flights she spent most of the time howling, but since we've gotten that under control, she's been perfectly quiet in the bag under the seat.

Thinking about it more, though, I can't imagine how a 20 lb dog even *could* fit under an airline seat.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:50 PM on April 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Hiya Hands, I was wondering when this year you'd be coming down here. Several of my co-workers moved here recently, though I think the dog owners all drove. I'll send an email out tonight and get back to you if I find anything.
posted by donpedro at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2006

Response by poster: donpedro,

please email me at scott DOT thigpen AT gmail

look forward to hearing from you
posted by Hands of Manos at 10:09 PM on April 24, 2006

From colleague #1: Call a Mexican consulate in the States just to make sure, but I don't think the dog needs any paper work, just a proof of shots that shows he's had rabies boosters and all that. He could in theory walk from the U.S. to Mexico so there's no need for a quarantine as he's not crossing any body of water.

I flew my dog in by himself from Detroit via Miami to Mexico City and it was a disaster. They held him in customs for hours, made us wait to give him an expensive and very slow medical examination which saw a vet look at him for two seconds then, sign something and let him go and charge us about $90 for his time. Some how his lease got stolen in that process. It simply vanished. Then we had to pay some sort of importation tax which seemed totally made up as the woman at the importation counter simply asked how much paid for him when he was a puppy (I lied like crazy) plugged that figure into a calculator and some how came out with hundreds of dollars tax. We then had to pay $40 to have a guy with a cart transport the cage with the dog in it across the parking lot, even though it was small enough for one person to easily carry. If you're actually bringing the dog on the plane with you, you may be able to skip most of this stuff. But my advice, bring lots and lots of pesos and be prepared for a serious hassle. I got to the airport around 1 p.m. and it was 9 p.m. by the time we got him back to the apartment.

I hope this helps.

From colleague #2: is he flying or driving? airport officials might actually care about the paperwork. We got voluminous paperwork on our dog and cat, with all (Mexican-required but not San Francisco-required) shots up to date, and even the requisite checkup within 48 hours of crossing the border -- and then we couldn't get a single Mexican official at the border to care the least about our pets...
posted by donpedro at 8:41 PM on April 25, 2006

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