Here’s how to take your dog on vacation to Mexico

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If dogs really are man’s best friends, shouldn’t that mean their adventures together extend beyond their hometown? Pets are a big part of our everyday lives, and with more than a third of Americans owning a dog, it’s hard to say goodbye to them when it’s time to go on vacation. The good news is that Mexico, the top destination for Americans, is increasingly opening its doors to dog lovers and increasing its pet-friendly tourism.

Dog in Holbox in the water

The Secretary of Tourism of Mexico, Miguel Torruco Marqués, recently inaugurated the 1st World Congress on Well-being and Health and said that the important role that pets have played in our lives has generated a direct impact on the services provided by the tourism industry, since there are establishments that offer ‘pet-friendly’ amenities to facilitate The owners travel with their dogs.

Traveling with a dog can be an overwhelming process. International travel is not only fraught with anxieties such as commuting, border control, and potential language barriers, but there are often complicated rules and exclusions for animals that add an extra layer of stress.

dog in mexico city

In recent years, some airlines, accommodations, and restaurants have begun to ease their restrictions and make traveling with dogs more seamless. Travel Off Path looks at ways to take your four-legged friend on vacation to Mexico.

Before you travel

Unless you are traveling with a puppy under three months of age, dogs entering Mexico by air or land must be vaccinated against rabies, and you must show proof of current and current vaccination record (dogs must be vaccinated against rabies every 1 – 3 years depending on the type of vaccine used and local laws).

Since 2019, Mexico has removed the requirement for US and Canadian visitors to have a health certificate for their pets, but airlines often dictate these requirements if you choose to travel by air. Most airlines that fly to Mexico require a health certificate issued by a veterinarian, and these can cost upwards of $320.

dog in airport

Not all vets offer these certifications, so be sure to call ahead to confirm which vet can do it for you. Certain airlines like Volaris do not require a health certificate when coming from the US, so you may find airlines that circumvent this and save a few bucks.

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Dog in travel case

fly with your dog

Most airlines that travel to Mexico, such as American Airlines, United, and Delta, allow dogs to travel with you on the flight, either in the cabin or checked as baggage. Below are the rules and restrictions of the two largest airlines in Mexico:

aeromexico

flying in the cockpit

Aeroméxico requires a health certificate that has been issued 5 days before the trip. If the flights last less than 6 hours and your dog fits under the seat in front of you, he can travel with you in the cabin. Keep in mind that most AeroMexico flights to Mexico have an average seat pitch of 31 inches (measured between one point on the seat and the same point on the seat in front), so it may be a bit tight for a bigger dog.

  • Cost: $162 in low season and $168 in high season per dog
  • Size and weight restrictions: The maximum weight allowed in the cabin is 9 kg (19.8 lbs), and this must include the weight of the luggage rack/container. The carrier/container must fit under the seat in front of you and cannot exceed 16x12x8 inches, and must be made of flexible or soft plastic. Only one dog per passenger is allowed, and the dog must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Service Animals: service animals must not weigh more than 16 pounds or be more than 22 inches long and 12 inches high.

Checking a dog as baggage

  • Cost: $252 in low season and $258 in high season per dog
  • Size and weight restrictions: The maximum weight of the dog and the container is 45 kg (99.2 lbs). The carrier must meet the airline’s standards, such as size, quality, and lockability. It is recommended to consult the international requirements here.
dogs in travel cages

you will fly

The airline offers a little more pitch between seats (about 30 to 32 inches, compared to AeroMexico’s 31), which is always helpful if you’re bringing your dog in the cabin. Please note that if you have a brachycephalic dog, such as a French bulldog, or a small dog, such as a Chihuahua, you will need to sign a liability waiver, as these breeds are not recommended for travel (see full list here).

Dogs considered aggressive or dangerous, such as a Rottweiler or Akita Inu, cannot travel in the cabin or as baggage. Currently, Volaris does not require a health certificate if you are traveling from the United States to Mexico, but you will need it for the return trip.

flying in the cockpit

  • Cost: $150 in low season and $180 in high season per dog
  • Size and weight restrictions: The maximum weight allowed in the cabin is 10 kg (22 lbs), and this must include the weight of the luggage rack/container. The carrier/container must fit under the seat in front of you and cannot exceed 17.5x12x7.5 inches, and must be made of heavy-duty plastic or fabric. Only one dog is allowed per passenger, and the dog must be at least 4 months old.

Checking a dog as baggage

  • Cost: $180 in low season and $190 in high season per dog
  • Size and weight restrictions: The maximum weight of the dog and container is 100 pounds (45 kg), and the carrier must provide adequate space for the dog to move.
Dog in luggage cage

service animals

If your dog is a registered service animal, these fees are waived if they meet the size requirements and fit at your feet. Dogs don’t have to be in a container with you in the cabin, but each airline has its own documentation and requirements that must be presented before you fly, so be sure to check the airline’s rules. Some airlines do not allow emotional support animals, so it is recommended to check what the documentation requirements are for each type of service.

Arriving in Mexico

Upon arrival in Mexico by air or land, your dog must be inspected by official SENASICA personnel, who will check your dog to ensure that it does not show signs of infectious diseases, fresh or scarred lesions, and no signs of ectoparasites. Be sure not to travel with extra bedding or dog accessories, as they can be thrown away. You should also bring only enough food for the day of the trip.

Mexican Chihuahua Celebrating Cinco De Mayo

Traveling with your dog in Mexico

Major hotel and vacation rental chains offer pet-friendly accommodations and will allow pets to stay for free or at an additional cost, but some have certain weight restrictions. Hotels like The Westin, Hilton, Four Points, and Four Seasons offer pet policies. Sites like BringFido.com are a great resource for dog-friendly travelers to find dog-friendly stays, and they’ve all been verified by their editors. Popular booking sites like Expedia, Booking.com, and Airbnb also offer a feature to filter pet-friendly accommodations.

Most restaurants in Mexico are pet-friendly, so you’ll be spoiled for choice and might even enjoy a special dog-friendly menu (as long as your pup is well-behaved).

Dog looking out airplane window

Returning to the United States

As with entering Mexico, it is the airlines that decide the travel requirements, not just the countries. If you are traveling by road, dogs returning to the US (or newly-acquainted friends) do not require a rabies vaccination if they have not been to a high-risk country for rabies. Mexico is not listed as a high risk country for rabies, but airlines require that the rabies vaccine be administered at least 28 days before travel and to be valid.

Please note that if your dog visited a high-risk country for rabies (such as Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela) within the last 6 months and does not have an ISO compliant microchip, it will not be allowed in the United States.

The CDC also doesn’t require a health certificate, but each US state has its own rules, so check your final destination. Many airlines require a health certificate from a veterinarian to travel, and AeroMéxico and Volaris require certificates within 5 days of the day of travel.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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