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This page has been prepared by "Wild Bill" Wiederhold in response to the frequent appearance of pet questions on the Message Board. Special thanks to Wild Bill for the contribution.

To view suggestions and regulations from the United States Department of Agriculture, click here (

To view comments from the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento, California, click here ( Scroll down the page to find "REQUIREMENTS TO IMPORT SMALL DOMESTIC ANIMALS."

Fred Metcalf

Baja California Information Pages
Pets in Baja

"Wild Bill" Wiederhold, Correspondent

We've taken our dogs to Baja for many years without any legal problems. The main thing to have is a current proof of rabies vaccination, and the only time we've been asked to show it was when returning to the U.S.. A health certificate from a vet will do the same thing, but the primary worry is rabies. For that matter, I have friends who have found dogs in Baja that they've fallen in love with and have taken them to a vet down there for their shots. No problems were encountered at the border with the paperwork provided from the vet.

Some things to remember are:

  • Take plenty of food for the trip as dog food in Baja is not cheap and quality food is hard to find.

  • Make sure your dog always has plenty of water, and don't forget that the temperature inside a vehicle climbs rapidly when you park. Like kids, they cannot handle heat extremes.

    We were on a trip where the outside temperature was about 95º, parked in the shade. I left the windows down a couple of inches and we were away for about an hour and a half. It had gotten to be 135º in the cab during that period. Our dogs were in an insulated Alaskan camper so they did not have any problems and, of course, we had left them plenty of water while we were away.
  • Take along any medication that they use regularly or may need.

    We always take along syrup of Ipecac (available at any drug store) in case they eat something that can be harmful to them (i.e., puffer fish - even dead ones, which are poisonous). Follow the directions on the bottle. The syrup will make them throw up; your dog will hate you for doing it, but will get over it. As gross as this may seem, it's better than a big vet bill!

    An antibiotic cream (e.g., Neosporin) is good for hot spots or open sores. Also, we usually take along a general antibiotic in case they come down with an infection. Ask your vet, they will probably write you a prescription. The vets in Baja focus primarily on livestock and may not be up to date when it comes to pets.

  • If your pet happens to get sprayed by a skunk or decides to roll on that dead seal over there . . . you can use tomato sauce or juice to wash them with. This helps to eliminate the odor. "Ozium" is a good odor eliminator for your vehicle.

  • Keep your pet away from possible poisons.

    In Mexico, it's very common practice to put out rat poison to control populations of unwanted vermin, including dogs. I am not a veterinarian, but I have heard that the antidote for rat poisoning (WARFRIN is the actual compound) is vitamin K. Do not let your dog eat anything in Mexico, which is very hard to do. If your pet is peeing blood it is possibly due to rat poison, and you are in trouble. If you can bring intravenous vitamin K, then you are ahead of the game. They pee blood because the warfrin destroys the liver.

    Strychnine is also a common poison in Mexico. Same thing, they put out bait for vermin with the strychnine in it. People need to keep their dogs in control at all time, and be conscious of any damage they do to Mexican property, I have heard stories of local Mexican farmers getting mad at gringo's and poisoning their dogs to get rid of "the problem."

    If this is a real worry for you, one idea would be to place one of those muzzles on your dog, puppies and young dogs especially, while in and around populated areas. That would help keep them from eating anything you wouldn't want them to.

Other things to remember:

  • Don't let your pet run too wild right out the gate in the sand. It really leaves their paws and webbing raw. If this happens you can tape an old pair of socks on their feet.

  • Cactus is another issue. When on a hike, it's a good idea to have a pair of needle nose pliers with you to pull any out of your pet, or yourself. I generally have my Leatherman with me, tweezers for the smaller pieces back at camp.

  • Provide them with shade if it's hot out, even if it's under your vehicle. Keep them tied up in the evening as the coyotes will try to lure them away. We've had packs of them come right into camp and try to do just that. Pick up their toys, food and water bowls at night because the coyotes will carry them off.

  • Keep your fishing tackle out of their reach. There is nothing worse than to be in the middle of nowhere and have a hook in your pets' mouth.

  • Respect other campers by keeping your pets out of their camps if they are not wanted there. Pick up after them (take a shovel and bury it). Dogs seem to be fond of human feces, so bury them deep. Take their bedding and any of their favorite toys. It makes them feel more at home.

  • Mexicans are very often afraid of dogs because of rabies concerns. Please be considerate and keep the dog on a leash when in town or around locals.

  • Fireworks can really frighten dogs, and many gringos insist on having "fun" with fireworks. Make sure you keep control of your dog when the fireworks start, he/she may bolt and a lost dog in Mexico is a scary proposition.

This isn't necessarily everything . . . your needs may vary. If you have any more questions please feel free to write.

"Wild Bill" Wiederhold
Oceanside, CA

Contents Page: Copyright 1999-2011 W. B. Wiederhold