Traveling with Pets

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.  

General Tips

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.

Border Requirements

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. 

Pet Advantages

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.

Health Issues

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.

Stray Dogs

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.

Wed, 03/02/2011 - 16:20

Travelling WIth A Pet: Easy and a Joy!


We picked up a dog in Alaska at the start of the trip.  We had both wanted a dog and thought what better time to train a puppy when you have all day with it, everyday.  We also assumed their would be compromise with having a dog along, in terms of places we couldn't go, hotels we couldn't stay at and restaurants we couldn't enter.  As it turned out, our dog has been 99% joy and 1% inconvenience, and we would bring her again in a second.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact: [email protected]com




Fri, 03/11/2011 - 18:06

thanks for the great info

Thanks again Cam - we really appreciate you spending the time to put this article together.  Other roadtrippers take note!  We love your content and you are keeping this site useful and current.  

Sat, 04/16/2011 - 17:32

Taking a dog into Panama

Our experience in 2007 with two dogs going into Panama was after some hassle at the Ag Inspection, they allowed us to license the dogs for $10 US.  You have to insist you are not importing them but they are only in transito for a visit.  They took one of our groups passport number, anthers signature and address and the cell phone number of a guy that was helping us and put both dogs on one license.  They really don't quite know what to do, so give them  a suggestion of a license and insist you are not importing the dog! 


Fri, 08/19/2011 - 00:50

To take the pooch? Sigh. Undecided.

Thanks for all the pet tips thus far! It's a big confidence booster!

Well, I am completely and unapologetically biased, but I seriously have the best dog eva. Rosco the Wonder Dog.

He's a no-frills rez mutt who is healthy, happy, and pretty much goes everywhere with me. SO, it's difficult for me to imagine my upcoming South American foray without him. Camping, he'd make me feel 100% safer, and it truly brings me joy when I see him frolick on the beach, let his ears flop in the breeze out the car window, and hell, even when he rolls in something nasty and has that shit-eating grin on his face. (Sometimes literally.)

However, when I think of the reality and the logistics of having a dog, I'm seriously questioning whether or not it would be A) practical, B) more of an inconvenience for me, and C) not fun for him, if I decide to bring him.

Some of my biggest logistical concerns are:

*Getting around the Darien Gap - are dogs allowed on the sailboats? Flights? That's a head scratcher for me.

*Staying in hostels/campgrounds/hotels. I'm sure I'll have to adhere to the wanderlust philosophy of flying by the seat of my pants and hoping for the best, but I'm concerned that the potential daily stress of wondering if we'll find a dog-friendly place to crash will eventually take its toll.

*Did I mention that gap between Panama and Colombia? Hmmph.

Would be appreciative of any comments, suggestions, and encouragement! ;)



(scheming a 2012 drive from Portland, OR to Argentina)




Mon, 11/21/2011 - 01:08

African doggy dilemma

We are doing Argentina to Alaska in 2012. It is a family trip so it will be us parents our two pre teen kids and now i wanna take my pooch Roxy the Boxer. She would absolutely love the trip and if  we were US based i wouldnt hesitate but we have to fly her in with us from South Africa to Argentina, then drive and camp with her up to Alaska and then fly her back with us to S. Africa. Does anyone have any tips? Specifically re flying her in to Argentina and out of Alaska.


Mon, 11/21/2011 - 09:42

post your question in our forums

Hi Sidebar - Try putting your question in our forums; you're more likely to get a response there I believe.  

Thu, 09/27/2012 - 16:25

Our Dog Goes Everywhere and cat, two parrots and a fish....

So far, we have taken our wonderful dog back and forth between the US, Mexcio and Belize eleven times. We have also take the same dog to Japan, Hawaii, Taiwan and the Philippines. We have since added two parrots---and now our daughter has a pet kitty who travels with us too. The fish is a spotted tropical fish our son caught and the thing has been living in a wonderful mobile aquariam for six months and seems rather happy, for a fish. We try hard not to even take the animals into the customs office and so far that has worked great for us. We go inside personally, and smile a lot and then as we drive through we talk alot while one child pets the dog (under a blanket :)). The other animals are in tiny cages---perhaps the key is having an umm, how should I say it? Not overly clean camper. 8 children help with the distraction factor too. We willl report back as we keep traveling. Currently in Belize with a goal of Argentina but we travel s.l.o.w.l.y.

By the pet passports for us but we do carry vet checks.

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 20:43 (Reply to #7)

Type of camper?

Just curious . . . what type of camper do you have that accomodates a dog, cat, two parrots, fish, eight children and, I assume, two adults?  Thanks, Tom

Tue, 04/30/2013 - 11:26

pet friendly hotels in Mexico

Thanks to Fritz and Trisha, we've now started a list of pet friendly hotels in Mexico

Fri, 08/02/2013 - 07:15


Any advice for traveling with cats??

Tue, 11/12/2013 - 12:01

Traveling with very old dog, partially deaf

Would there be difficulties driving from Texas to Costa Rica with a small (toy poodle) that is very old and partially deaf although otherwise healthy? He needs frequent walking, of course, which would mean having to stop along the road to walk the dog and it would also mean taking the dog out of a hotel room for walks in the middle of the night. Would any of this be a problem for either the traveler or the dog?

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 06:39

Poison baits in Argentina

Careful with your dog (or basically any pet) in Argentina - in some places the sheep farmers throw around poison to get rid of the stray dogs. It's just lying there on the ground so any dog can eat it. Our dog got poisoned in Perito Moreno (the town) by the local lagoon (he's from the street as well so he happilly eats anything he finds that smells good to him). Fortunately, we found a vet in time who gave him atropin so he survived. The vet told us the poisonings are very common there. Have your dog on a leash or be very careful what he/she sniffs at. Unfortunately, I don't know what it looks like, we had our dog running free and he just came back from somewhere, all trembling.

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 08:25

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Wed, 02/15/2017 - 12:05

Any Anti Pit Bull laws along the way?

I am glad bringing a pet is possible, and useful.  If I bring my pit bull will I encounter any extra issues? USA has some odd laws about these dogs...


Wed, 02/15/2017 - 12:06

Any Anti Pit Bull laws along the way?

I am glad bringing a pet is possible, and useful.  If I bring my pit bull will I encounter any extra issues? USA has some odd laws about these dogs...