When planning your trip, you don't necessarily have to leave beloved Fido behind. Many people have done the drive along with their trusty pets (see Barb and Reinie, Robin and Raenelle, Brendan and Tina, and Jeff to name a few). Read this article for tips on how to successfully Drive the Americas with your dog.
It is a good idea to bring a folding cage. While you may almost never put your dog in it, having the cage with you can be the positive tipping point for hotels who aren't sure if they want to allow you to stay with a dog. While your dog may not chew stuff, hotel owners dont know that, and the idea of the dog being in a cage may comfort them to the point of acceptance.
Dog food and toys are not always super easy to find, once you leave the "Land of Walmart". Be prepared to either buy large containers of food when you can find it, or compromise on the food quality.
It is never hard to find vets, when needed. Mexico was one of the cheapest places for vet visits, and to get your dog spayed or neutered due to North American volunteer/retiree vets working throughout the country. A list of recommended vets can be found here.
Borders generally all require papers for your dog and generally a small fee for allowing her into the country.
- Photocopies of Valid Rabies Certificate
- Photocopies of Certificate of Health written by a Vet and no older than 1 month
- Photocopies of all of her other vaccinations
For Belize, if you fill out a Pet Passport form online and send it in, you can save yourself a $50 fine for not having filled it out. The website actually states $100.
For Panama, they claim that you need to have your dog in quarantine for 90 days before entering the country, but if you have an envelope ready with $40 in it to give to the Agricultural Inspector (after he implies a bride is necessary) he will see you through without any paper work. Don't bother getting a certificate of health in Costa Rica to come to Panama as they are $130 and take 10 days. Once bribed, the Agricultural Inspector didn't look at any papers.
Many central americans seem to be afraid of dogs due to past problems with rabies. Additionally, people see dogs as unpredictable and therefore stay clear. While this can be frustrating when trying to talk to people, it may also keep trouble at bay.
There are a lot of people out there who love animals, especially clean healthy ones. Pets can be a great conversation topic. Furthermore, having your dog along has may make you much more active, which is especially important when spending so much time in our car.
Central Americans generally do not think of pets as 'part of the family'. Therefore, one must be very careful near the many busy and chaotic roadways, as they will be less likely to put the effort in to swerve. It is highly recommended to keep your pet on leash at all times near road ways, as there are always noises and distractions (firecrackers, other dogs) that may send your pet running into the road.
Ticks are very common in many of the countries and so is tick fever, which can seriously harm your pet. Be diligent about applying Frontline or equivalent anti-tick medications to your dog. Furthermore you can get 3-month injections from local vets as well as preventative collars. In Belize ticks are prolific as well as in Panama. Condsider washing your dog with anti-tick shampoo any time you find any, and check regularly for tick infestations, especially between your pets toes.
In general the 1000's of stray dogs you meet are generally friendly as they have been well socialized compared to North American "fenced in" dogs. The only time to beware is if there is a pack of strays, as pack mentality is much less predictable.