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Caring for Your Pet in Panama

There’s a process, but it’s easy to bring your fur babies with you when you move to Panama. Each airline has different pet policies.  Find the airline that has the most friendly pet policy for your type pet then book your flight and your pets flight at least 2-3 months in advance.  Then, make sure your pet is up to day on their vaccinations.  Thirty days before you move to Panama, you will need to get an international health certificate issued by a vet who is certified to issue them.  The next step is getting the health certificate authenticated by the agriculture department then another authentication from the Panama Consulate in your country.   Simultaneously, you’ll need to get authorization to bring your pets in to Panama and get a home quarantine certificate.  Don’t worry, during a Panama Relocation Tours we will give you all the details about reliable contacts who can help with the entire process of getting your pets in to Panama in the most affordable and safe way.  It’s approximately $500 – $600 per pet to bring them in to Panama.  This price includes airfare, vet certifications, and authentications in both countries.   It’s a simple process to bring your pets in to Panama.  There is no need to hire a pet relocation company who will charge about $3000 per pet.

PET CARE IN PANAMA

Panama vet and pet storeOnce your pets get to Panama, now what? What kind of care can you expect? What food is available?  Will you be able to still spoil your little prince or princess in the matter that they are accustomed? The answer is absolutely!

Panama has veterinarians that are as highly trained as they are in the country where you originate. Some vets speak perfect English but some don’t.  You can get recommendations from fellow expats about which vet they use.  All of the vets here that I have encountered are not only knowledgeable but have the latest technological equipment and services available. So if you are bringing your little fur kids in for an annual checkup, or a more serious procedure, you can rest assured that “Sir Barksalot” or “Miss Whiskers” will get the best possible care in Panama!

One thing that you will be shocked about is the price. The prices that Panamanian veterinarians charge is far less that what you paid in your country. A regular office visit, depending on what part of Panama you live in, could range from around $7.00 to $20.00. Blood work in Coronado for example is around $25.00. In Boquete or David however, the blood work will cost only $15.00! Plus, the doctor will give you a printout immediately showing the entire tests that were given with the results!

You will also be surprised to find that many vets in Panama will also do house calls for about $25.  When is the last time a vet came to your house to care for your little one? The care has been outstanding with every vet that I have used in Panama.

GROOMERS

pet food in panamaA friend has a Chihuahua which is notorious for being a difficult dog to handle. But the groomers and the doctors here in Panama have a special calming touch. It is amazing!

Some towns in Panama have grooming places. Some towns do not.  Often the groomer is in the same office as your veterinarian. The prices for grooming also vary depending on what part of the country you live in and the size of your pet. For an example, in Coronado one of the groomers charges between $14.00 to $30.00 per animal (Chihuahua vs. German Sheppard). Grooming includes bathing, grooming, cleaning of the ears and the anal ducts and having their toenail clipped. Keep in mind that Coronado is one of the most expensive places to live, so call around and get the price for the town that you are living in or plan on moving to.

PET/HOUSE SITTERS

panama pet suppliesThere are many pet sitters available in all the providence of Panama, especially in the towns where there are a lot of expats. If you go away for a few days or a few months, there are people that will come and stay at your house and take care of both your house and your pet. That is much better on the animal because they do not have the stress of being taken away from their home and yet they still get the care and attention that they need. I pay $25 a day for someone to stay at my house and take care of my cats when I’m doing a tour.  There is no fee for some house/pet sitters for longer terms.  It is a win-win situation!

Check in your area by using social media or word of mouth for the people that offer pet/house sitting services.  You can always find someone who can accommodate what is needed for you and your pets. There are also day sitting places where you can take your pet, along with obedient classes. Panama is a very pet friendly country!

Some pet stores have every specialty when it comes to certain brands of pet food, to special need pet foods. They even have gluten free products available! Some pet stores have kennels, pet beds, toys and treats for dogs.  There are limited treats for cats and I have not been able to find Temptation Cat Treats in Panama so I have to order them from Amazon to get shipped to Panama.

FLEAS, TICKS AND OTHER CRITTERS

If you allow your pets to go outside, they may get fleas or ticks, especially in the warmer climate areas in Panama.  You can buy over the counter treatments or your Panama vet will have stronger medications available.  There are also natural pests control products available for pets (which I prefer).

cane toad panamaSnakes can be a problem in warmer climate areas too.  I know people who have lost their dog to coral snake bites.   It may be better to keep your dog on a leash when they go outside so you can prevent encounters with snakes or cane toads.  I also know people who live in Panama who have trained their dogs to stay away from snakes and toads.

Cane toads can be deadly for dogs in Panama.  They are rather defenseless-looking creatures, but they are loaded with an extremely toxic chemical located in glands along their back. When a dog bites or mouths the toad, these chemicals are released from the glands and absorbed through the mucous membranes of the dog’s mouth into the bloodstream.  The toxin can then cause a multitude of effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, panting, increased salivation, red gums, very high and irregular heart rate, seizures and possible death due to heart failure. The severity is dependent on contact time, the amount of toxin absorbed and the dog’s size. Smaller breeds are potentially the most severely affected.

My cats are inside outside cats during the day. They stay in at night. The biggest concern I have is that a dog gets on my property and tries to attack them.  So I have a gate at my entry to try to prevent unwanted dogs from getting on to my property.

ADOPT A PET IN PANAMA

You can adopt a pet, or a pet may adopt you, once you move to Panama. There are foster and adoption agencies available. And in every town that has an expat community, they are always looking for volunteers to work with the animals.

Spay and Neuter Clinic Boquete PanamaMost towns have a spray/neuter days where the local veterinarians and the volunteers will give their time and expertise for the stray animals and for the less fortunate pet owners who would not be able to afford the luxury of that particular service. Because of the successful spay and neuter clinics, Panama does not have the major problems that many foreign countries have with an overabundance of feral dogs or cats. The generosity of these volunteers is helping Panama. And the joy that they give to Panama also comes back to them with the joy that they receive by helping these adorable little animals!

In closing, whether you have a pet cat or a Great Dane, rest assured that your pet will be well taken care of in your new country! Welcome all pets!

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Jeanne Mcmahon says

    1. Do they have raw food for dogs?
    2. Do humans need specific vaccines prior to going on your tour?

  2. Christine Seronnello says

    Do those deadly toads live up in the higher altitudes, like Volcán? Do they have vaccines for the coral snake, like they do here in California for rattlesnakes?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Christine, the cane toads are less common in higher elevations but they are there too.

      I’m not aware that there is a vaccine for snake bites for pets. The doctor will give the pet an antihistimine if they are having breathing problems. It’s a good idea to keep these pills at your house so you can give to the dog (or you) right away.

      For cane toads, this describes what to do
      https://pethelpful.com/dogs/I-Had-A-Killer-In-My-Own-Front-Yard

  3. James C. O'Malley says

    Hello Jackie,

    I was wondering if Panama acknowledges service dogs. I am a U.S. Navy Veteran, and have a service dog. Considering a possible move to Panama, though want to make sure I can have my service dog with me.

    Thank You
    Jim

    • Jackie Lange says

      HI James

      With appropriate documentation, you will be able to get your dog in-cabin as a service dog. But once you get to Panama, they consider your dog a pet. They don’t allow pets in restaurants or stores. Some hotels will allow pets for an additional non-refundable deposit.

  4. Char says

    Hi Jackie,

    Are there any special rules about bringing pet rabbits to Panama? They are a bonded pair and are spayed/neutered.

  5. Shelly says

    Are you aware of a vet that specializes in brachycephalic breeds such as French Bulldogs?

    • Jackie Lange says

      Shelly

      The vets I’ve met in Panama either deal in small animals or big animals – some do both. I’ve never heard of a vet who specializes in a certain breed of dog.

  6. Jacqueline Cassell says

    Hi Jackie, you mentioned a spray that could be applied in the carrier when transporting a cat on airplane that will essentially keep them calm during travel. Can you give me the name of the spray and I’ll have it checked out by my vet. We are planning a stay in Panama effective January of next year. Thanks much! Jackie C.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Since you cannot sedate pets during a flight, I used Comfort Zone, its a stress reducing pheromone that you spray in the pet carrier to keep your pet calm.

  7. David C. says

    I am considering a retirement in Panama, specifically in Boquete or Volcan… but I have two lovebirds that I’d want to take with me if I did move. Do you know if the local pet stores sell a variety of bird seed and treats?

    (I know that David is the closest major city… and that Melo Pet and Garden seems to be a chain of pet stores throughout the country. But their website really doesn’t go into what they sell, just the brands.)

  8. David C. says

    I’m thinking of retiring in Panama, specifically the Boquete/Volcan region, but I have pet lovebirds. Does anyone know if the pet stores there (such as Melo Pet and Garden) stock bird seed/treats/toys/etc?

    • Jackie Lange says

      David, there is a MELO in Volcan and Boquete. If they don’t have what you need in stock, they can order it. Vets also carry a variety of different pet foods.

  9. Mariana says

    I have personally seen bird seeds at pet stores/vets in Boquete. Not sure what the variety is though.

  10. Zdravko Gospodinov says

    David, for your information Melo Pet & Garden stocks OLA bird foods for lovebirds, parakeets, parrots, canaries, etc.

  11. Roz & Manny says

    Hi Jackie, this article eeems to deal mainly with furry pets. But how about bird pets?

    At our ages, we are thinking of getting a pet sooner than late in our lives, an African Grey parrot.

    We were wondering if it would be wiser to bring it to Panama from the USA, or would it be better to wait until we have settled in Panama and getting our pet there?

    IS there any chance of findling an African Grey parrot in Panama that we can buy?

    PS: We are looking forward to our upcoming Panama Relocation Tour this July!

    • Jackie Lange says

      Hello

      I really don’t know the rules for bringing birds in to Panama. I can check, then let you know. I know there are birds for sale and the pet stores have special bird food.

  12. Andrea says

    Where would I find commercial raw food there? That’s exciting news!

    • Jackie Lange says

      I have never seen commerical raw pet food at the pet stores or vet offices or other stores. You would need to make your own.

  13. Andrea says

    Do they allow dogs on outdoor patios at restaurants? We take our dog everywhere and he used to doing this.

    • Jackie Lange says

      Most restaurants will NOT allow dogs on outdoor patios at restaurants or other outdoor places. Some beaches do not allow dogs. Many restaurants do not have an outdoor patio.

  14. Jessica Ducksworth says

    Hi did you ever find the answer? I want to bring my rabbit as well.

    • Jackie Lange says

      you need to contact jose at goldenfrog.net for details about bringing your rabbit to panama

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