Pets in Guatemala

Hello everyone,

Many of us in Guatemala have four-legged friends. What about you? Do you have one or more pets? Share your experience with us!

What are the formalities to import pets in Guatemala? What about pet adoption procedures in the country? Did you bring your pet from your home country to your host country? If so, did everything turn out fine?

What do Guatemalans think about pets? Are they comfortable with dogs, cats or unusual pets?

Share your advice!


This is such a big topic! I will share what I know from my personal experience moving from Canada to Panajachel, Guatemala. I currently have two cats, one dog, and one foster puppy. I'll answer the above questions as best I can and encourage you to click the links for more detailed info.

1. What are the formalities to import pets in Guatemala?
I came here in April 2015 and I brought my cat from Canada.
Here is the blog about bringing my cat from Canada to Guatemala.
Basically, I spent a lot of time and money in Canada to get all the right paperwork, which all had to be done in a very short time frame before leaving, and then the Guatemalan import guy barely glanced at it!
I imagine the procedure would be pretty similar for dogs, except that bigger dogs can't be carried on the plane with you and must be checked as baggage. This can be dangerous! Check with your vet about the proper way to transport a dog, check with the airline for restrictions (eg. can't fly snub-nosed breeds, can't fly in August, can't fly to certain countries), and do everything you can to make your dog's transition easy.

2.What about pet adoption procedures in Guatemala?
Adopting a pet is easy in Guatemala. There aren't any rules or regulations as far as I know. There are pet stores selling puppies and kittens and sometimes other small animals, but why buy when you can adopt!
Here is where I'd like to share with you all my favourite animal rescue charities!
In Panajachel and around Lake Atitlan, the charity that I personally volunteer for...
Ayuda Para la Salud de Perros y Gatos
I cannot say enough good things about AYUDA. They do amazing work, and they focus on educating the locals, employing local veterinarians, training vet interns, and catch-fix-and-release of unhomeable street dogs.
Other charities:
Mayan Families Hope for the Animals - Panajachel
Animal Aware - Antigua area
Huellas Xela - Quetzaltenango

3. What do Guatemalans think about pets? Are they comfortable with dogs, cats or unusual pets?
Whoa, loaded question. Hmmm. There are wide variations in Guatemalans' attitudes towards animals, as is probably true in all countries.
In the cities, there are folks who have little yappy dogs all dressed up in clothes and hair ribbons and they spoil them rotten with all the most expensive toys and food.
In the rural towns, they throw poisoned hot dogs on the streets to kill all the stray dogs. They also throw bags of puppies or kittens in the river.
But the majority of people are in between. Dogs are valuable guardians here. Cats keep pests away. Most animals are left to their own devices. Very few get proper food, vet care, or even shelter. There is a practice in most of Guatemala of keeping a dog on the flat roof of your house. They say it's for protection! I asked, "Do they fly?"  :)
There are many, many street dogs in most rural towns. They keep to themselves mostly. It's startling to see at first but you get used to it. These dogs have their own lives and are busy scrounging for food and interacting with other dogs. Guatemalans are used to them and just walk on by, only occassionally picking up a rock to throw at an unusually belligerant animal.

Some other notes:
We adopted a dog named Pachi and we loved her! She was stolen. Yup, stolen. People do that here.
There are so many dogs here that there is almost constant barking at night. I've kinda gotten used to it.
You see very few cats in the day. They have to hide from the street dogs! At night, they come to prowl and yowl. :)

I could go on and on but I'll end it here! Please check out my blog for more of my personal adventures with the animals in Panajachel, including my work with AYUDA. If you scroll down, there are tags on the right-hand side -- dogs and cats separately.

Adopt, don't shop!
And please spay or neuter!

Bonus photo, an awesome cat. How does he keep his fur so white??

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