Pet friendly?

My husband and I are considering retiring internationally. We are just starting the conversation. However, I currently own my own business as a dog trainer. This means that dogs are an important part of my life and I'm trying to get a feel for the level of Veterinary Care I can expect to receive in Costa Rica.  I'm also curious how many people bring their own dogs when they move or if it's better to wait until you're in the country to get a new dog.

I can only speak for our own rural area but there are two VERY good and well equipped vets in town.  One of our neighbors has a small dog that has been run over twice, once quite severely, and Dr. Laura has patched her up as good as new both times.  Many people bring their own pets.  In our small community about half the pets here came from their own country and the other half are from Costa Rica.  There are MANY adoption centers here.

My breed of choice is standard poodles and I doubt I'll find one in rescue there.  😀.  What are the typical breeds and breed mixes you find in rescue?

I don't have a dog, but had 2 (now 1) cats.  In my experience, the vets here do not have the same experience or expertise as those in North America.   I would speculate that most of their day is spent handling pets that have either been hit by a car or bitten by a snake.   

Most people here don't have the money to spend a lot on their pet for an X-ray or blood test to find out what might be wrong.  They're good for the common stuff, but for the more obscure diseases, you might find them lacking. That has been my experience, anyway.

You can find almost anything in the rescue (some look like purebreds) but for the most part they are heinz57's.  If you have not yet visited you will be amazed at the number of dogs at large!  We recently lost 1 of our 2 cats due to kidney disease and the local vet, Laura, looked after her right up to the end.  She has access to up to date lab equipment and the drug therapy that she prescribed was as good and as knowledgeable as any we saw in Canada and we are out in the boondocks.  Best of luck on your journey!

The cat we recently lost to kidney disease was taking a couple of drugs from our vet in Canada.   We went to a couple of vets here and neither had heard of them, and couldn't even import them from the US due to restrictions on imports, regardless of how much we would have paid.   We'd have to smuggle them in on our next flight home.   

In North America, pets are often considered part of the family.  Here, they're for security, especially in rural areas.  Terry and Viv, if you can find a vet here that provides the same standard of care that you had in Canada, consider yourselves lucky!   Don't get me wrong.  We have a great vet here.   She'll bend over backwards to help you and even gives us her cell number, but I think there's a standard of care you just can't get here due to the environment.

dogs ! you hit the passion of my life:)
For the past 26 years I have rescued many mutts some have passed on but I still have 6 and 1 vets here I know plenty...Many who give me discounts for spaying and neutering poorer neighbor's dogs and far as do people bring their dogs here YES if they feel the way most dog lovers do! BUT if anyone asks me , I would say "There are so many adorable dogs here to rescue, either from the mean streets or the few "Shelters" if you hurry before they are slaughtered.
Many are in it for the $$$ and murder many weekly ! so if you rescue even ONE . it would be a life saved .
I hope you rescue more ..I have 3 acres and may be selling so PM me if you need information, because I want a special deal if I sell and can rent back one of my 4 rentals because the main house is now too big for me a Paradise for dogs and called "The tranquil place in Spanish.I would welcome a dog lover..
Good Luck
There are lots of good things about living here Nowhere is Utopia ..but are far worse places :)

I know you're into dogs but I have 4 cats I don't want to leave behind. They are my babies. Can you refer me to people who can give me info about taking pets to Costa Rica?

I brought a cat from the USA with no problem just a vets certificate of health. BUT that was 26 years ago...check with the Consulate (Embassy )  to see if that is current,
I have not heard to the contrary but better check,,(Ps: I am into ALL animals including dogs and cats .
No discrimination here :)

I am amazed when people prefer  buying Pedigrees to Adopting Zaquates (Mutts )
Very few pedigrees  are in shelters as most Ticos snatch them up and shelters sell them (not cheap )
Believe it or not, in my 26 years of animal care here , I have seen Ticos paying LOTS of $$$ for pedigrees and dress them in silly clothes , a thing I find as a waste of money,  when that money could be a donation to the few legitimate "shelters " here.
(Many are slaughter houses in it just for the almighty $$ and murder the innocents weekly..There is a place in hell reserved just for them :( 
Good luck in  your search . I am responding to the correct post ? I thought  dogs (not just a name brand were imporrtant to you.    A dog trainer ? What breed do you train? and what type of training technique?

donna gillen :

I know you're into dogs but I have 4 cats I don't want to leave behind. They are my babies. Can you refer me to people who can give me info about taking pets to Costa Rica?

You can absolutely bring your cats to CR.  Note that the airline will only allow 1 cat per person on-board.   Do not put them in the cargo hold, get a soft-sided carrier and put them under the seat.  Also, when you get here, don't put them through the x-ray machine, carry them through (yeah, that might be obvious, but who knows).

The procedure varies according to your country.  Since you didn't indicate that, here's a couple of links to get you started.


Check whether your chosen airlines permit pets to be considered as 'excess baggage'. The one traveling 'in cabin' must weigh less than 20lb including carrier but the other three may have to travel as 'excess baggage...'

You could contact United Airlines PetSafe program for more information, although I suggest you check other airline website,  too...  Since I haven't used this service, it is just  suggestion and not a recommendation.

Better still, is after reading the information, phone and speak with the airline representative with your concerns.

Note that most homes here do not have screened windows and doors which could make it harder if you have indoor cats.

In response to vets here, we have been pleased with the care provided by local vets. We have 4 dogs.

We brought our 2 year old Lab with us. There was some paperwork and coordination with the airline involved, but it wasn't difficult. The timing of the shots and treatments was harder. And you have to get a vet that knows how to fill out the required government paperwork. Costa Rica is the most dog-friendly country I have ever been to. They are welcome even in restaurants in my area. That said, I have found the level of veterinary care here to be just fine. Although I live in an area where English is not widely spoken, there are two vets here, both of whom speak English. I just did this in April, so let me know if you need info about bringing your dog here. By the way, it's easier to come into Liberia with the dog than it is to fly into San Jose.

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