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
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
- 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
- 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