Life with a Dog in Nicaragua

Life With a Dog in Nicaragua
Gone are the days when our dog got two short walks per day and had to spend Monday to Friday snoozing away in the house while we were away at work all day.

A dog riding around the countryside on a motorcycle with us? Who would have thought!

If you’ve ever wondered (or worried) about what life would be like for your dog in Nicaragua this post will provide some great insight.


We take our dog Maggie everywhere. The fact that we can is just one of the reasons we love living in Nicaragua.

Here in San Juan del Sur the only place we can’t take Maggie is into the Pali (local grocery store). Oh, and to the bank.

Unless you’re in one of the larger cities like Managua this seems to be the case with pretty much most restaurants and bars. In fact, there are even a lot of pet friendly hotels. 

Since we are lucky enough to live in on the coast we’re usually at the beach with Maggie at least every other day. She is able to run freely off leash fetching her ball and frolicking in the ocean.

When we are out and about on the beach or walking around town we do encounter the odd street dog, but since they are generally scared of people (and Maggie) we are never bothered by them.

Although not common practice in Nicaragua we do carry poo bags and pick up after Maggie should she happen to do her business on the beach, sidewalk or street.


Some dogs tolerate the heat better than others. Minature schnauzers are not one of them. With average daytime highs reaching 28 to 34 degrees Celsius it gets hot here, especially for a little dog.

- Maggie cooling off in a tide pool: Playa Yankee: San Juan del, Nicaragua

– Maggie cooling off in a tide pool: Playa Yankee: San Juan del, Nicaragua

To ensure Maggie stays safe we avoid long walks in the heat of the day. We always carry a water dish so she can drink as often as she needs to.

And when it really starts to heat up in mid-April through to mid-May we actually find it’s better to leave her home during the day when we’re out and about running arounds so she can just chill out and keep cool and comfortable.


Here in Nicaragua the selection of quality dog food is very limited. Our preferred brand for Maggie is Mira.

We buy it the pet store at the central market here in San Juan del Sur. It’s also available at various shops in Granada and Managua. Price for a 3 kg bag is C$290 ($10.86 USD) and lasts us about five weeks.

Kirkland brand, which would be our second choice is available for purchase at PriceSmart in Managua.


Living in a country where many dog owners are not practicing flea or tick prevention can be a bit concerning.

Dogs in Nicaragua

– Available in 4 weight ranges – for small, medium, large and extra large dogs.

To protect Maggie from these pesky little critters and the potentially fatal tick borne disease every three to four weeks we apply a topical application on her called CertifectCost for the one month application of Certifect for Maggie (who is 15 lbs) is C$470 ($17.60 USD).

Certifect and other preventatives such as Frontline and flea and tick collars are also readily available here. 

As an additional precautionary measure we also do daily “tick checks”.


We are grateful for how incredibly inexpensive veterinarian care is here compared to Canada or the United States.

But we are even more grateful to have a skilled, compassionate and caring veterinarian who we can trust located a short ferry ride (or phone call) away on Ometepe Island.

Dr. Faran Dometz: San Juan del Sur Veterinary Clinic

~ We ❤️ Dr. Faran Dometz! (Photo credit: Katie Horn)

A regular consultation with our veterinarian Dr. Faran Dometz at Ometepe Vet Clinic is just C$300 ($11.24 USD).

Annual vaccine fee (distemper, parvo, rabies, etc.) is C$450 and includes a full physical exam.

Dental cleaning and spay and neuter surgeries start at $75 USD (price is based on weight) and are done by gas anesthesia.

Faran visits San Juan del Sur twice per month and is also available for virtual consultations via Skype and Facetime.


Having purchased Maggie here in Nicaragua, we haven’t personally dealt with importing a dog into the country, but after doing some extensive research and speaking to a few people that have here’s what we’ve learned.

Nicaragua does not quarantine healthy pets who meet the following requirements:

  • A licensed veterinarian must complete an International Health Certificate (see below for links to forms for Canada and the US) stating that your pet is in good health and free from parasites such as fleas and ticks.

    American Health Certificate
    Canadian Health Certificate
  • Once complete your health certificate must then be approved and stamped by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (if you’re Canadian) or the United States Department of Agriculture (if you’re American). Fees apply.
  • Your dog must have been vaccinated from rabies no more than 365 days and no less than 30 days prior to travel. For this reason be sure to plan your veterinarian visit and travel accordingly.

When you arrive in Nicaragua you will be asked to present the paperwork for your pup. Upon receipt and review of your paperwork — providing everything is in order — you’ll be required to pay an entry fee of $10 USD (per dog).

And that’s it, that’s all! You and Fido are then free and clear to start your new adventure together in Nicaragua.

DISCLAIMER: To the best of our ability we deem this information to be an accurate reflection of the current regulations for dog importation in Nicaragua.

Do you have a question we still haven’t answered? A major concern we haven’t addressed? Leave us a reply in the comment section below.

Posted on July 25, 2015, in Pets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. Thank you, this is great info!! Good timing for us, we will be flying in with our small dog mid August. I have been researching tick protection products. Most on the Facebook groups seem to agree Certifect is what is currently most effective. Our ‘go to’ online store has discontinued it – I got nervous and didn’t order it but now I think better to have the protection. Has Maggie experienced any skin dryness or other side effects?

    • Hi Karla,

      Maggie does have occasional skin issues, but this is common in the miniature schnauzer breed, so I really don’t think it has anything to do with the climate here.

      About 9 months ago we started giving her fish oil capsules and saw a dramatic change. One capsule per day has worked wonders!

      Ticks can be a bit of a problem here…and concerning…especially if you happen to have untreated dogs residing next door or near by. This is something we never had to deal with with our dog in Canada, but we have learned to manage it quite well here by doing daily checks and applying the Certifect every four weeks or so.

      Maybe we’ll see you and your pup around in August!


  2. Hi,

    Thanks for this post!

    I’m only in SJDS for the summer right now and in two weeks I have to leave.

    I just took in two kittens who wouldn’t last on their own, and am wondering if you have any good links to share about doing the reverse — flying out with pets (I’m going to the U.S.).

    I’m researching this just in case I can’t find them homes here–but I also think they might be too young to pass
    through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    This post is a bit off topic I know, but I would appreciate any shared info!


    • Hi Lily,

      According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cats are not required to have a rabies certificate for entry to the United States.

      Please see below for text that I copied from their site:

      A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet cats into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans. If a cat appears to be ill, further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense might be required at the port of entry.

      Cats are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for importation into the United States. However, some states require vaccination of cats for rabies, so it is a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your final destination..”

      If it were me — to be on the safe side — I would visit one of our local veterinarians to obtain a health certificate for each kitten.

      According to the Embassy of the United States (Managua * Nicaragua) you will require an export permit that has been authenticated at the Nicaraguan Chancery (MINREX).

      The veterinarian at the central market can help you with both the export permit and the health certificate.

      The fee for this service is $40 USD. It does take a few days to get the export permit though, so I recommend visiting their office no less than 10 days before you want to travel.

      Good luck!

      PS. Don’t forget to check with your airline provider for any current travel restrictions for pets.

  3. Hi Elisha!

    I recently discovered your blog, and read a bunch of your older posts to catch up!

    I am really thankful you posted about your dog and the requirements. I’m American, but my fiancée is Nicaraguan and we want to be open to the idea of moving to Nicaragua someday. Being able to bring our dogs is a must, and even better if we can avoid a quarantine.

    Thank you for the post!

    • Hi Jess,

      Thank you for your comment.

      We know many people who have brought their dogs from the US to Nicaragua. No quarantine is definitely a great thing!


  4. Thanks so much for posting this information! We will be in Granada for several months with our two dogs. Do you know of any kennels or boarding services that are available? I anticipate that we’ll travel some weekends and will need somewhere to leave the pups behind.


    • You’re welcome Julie!

      No unfortunately I don’t know of any boarding kennels in Granada. Your best bet might be to make friends with a couple of dog lovers, so they can take care of your pups when you want to travel. 😉


  5. We are travelling from Canada for just 4 months and bringing our dog and cat. We will have all the documents/vaccinations from our vet. However, I am Wondering if it’s necessary to have these documents authenticated by the Nicaraguan Embassy before entering the country or if the CFIA endorsement and our vet paperwork is sufficient on its own. I’ve been reading conflicting info.

  6. Ah thanks thats good to know. We saw some small dogs at airports in the USA as we travelled from Aussie via LA and Dallas to get to Nicaragua. Its pretty great that they can travel along with people in the cabin I never heard of this in Australia or NZ. Pity our dog is too large he will have to travel in a crate as cargo, which we got a quote for its possible but not cheap.

  7. Jessica Lanoue

    I have visited Nicaragua before and have travelled for work and leisure. I love Granada and San Juan del Sur but my job will require me to live in Managua. I want to bring my dog with me for companionship and protection however I am at a loss for how to travel with my dog to the coast. I will most likely not have a car, especially in the beginning and I was wondering if you know of any taxi services or any other type of service that I would be able to take my dog with me to provide us both with some relief from the craziness of the city. Please let me know if you know anything! Thank You!

    • Hi Jessica,

      Yes, there are various taxi drivers and shuttle services that will allow you to travel from Managua to San Juan del Sur and elsewhere in their vehicles with a dog.

      We have a reliable driver we can connect you with when the time comes.

      You can email us at and we can help you with the arrangements.


  8. I have read that Nicaragua does not have a breed restriction for dogs, is this the case?

  9. Jylian Russell

    Hi guys! Recently learned about your blog – such a wonderful and helpful resource, thank you! I’m a fellow Canadian, heading to Playa Gigante and then SJDS for 4-6months beginning in September. I’ll be bringing my pup with me. One of my biggest concerns is encounters with strays, mostly in Gigante. You guys mention you have no trouble with this in SJDS. Wondering if you have any specific tips on how you guys navigate around strays and what you do when one does approach Maggie?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Jylian:

      We always see dogs walking the streets and beaches of San Juan del Sur and Playa Gigante. Most of them are not strays though. They have homes to go back to at night, but wander around with their friends during the day.

      The thing about street dogs is they almost never get into a fight. If they did they wouldn’t last long.

      Most dogs are very social pack animals and the trouble usually starts when an owner has their dog on leash. Maggie is always off leash except on busy streets.

      She dominates dogs that are submissive and is submissive to dogs that are dominant. We have never had an issue and she has walked up to literally hundreds of dogs.

      Our strategy is to ignore the interaction between the dogs so our own insecurities do not colour our dogs perception and cause a problem that was never really there.

      If you are afraid and tense then your dog will emulate that stance and the approaching dog will feel the stress and insecurity in your dog. Stay calm and walk with confidence and your dog will learn to do the same.


      • Jylian Russell

        Thank you so very much for taking the time to give such thorough advice! So very helpful! Thank you!

  10. Jocelyn Viterna

    Any chance you have a recommendation for a vet in Managua?

  11. Hey, love the information! I am living in Léon now and wondered if you had a vet recommendation here in town? I just bought a mini Pincher and want to bring him back to the states with me when I return a year from now and also wondered if you have any new advice on returning with a pet? I do t want to leave my baby here! Thanks 🙂

  12. Would you happen to know if there is a restriction on how many dogs you can bring into the country?

  13. I want to bring my Service Dog to Nicaragua. I know he has to have had a rabies within one year. However hearing about the flea and tick products is worrisome. He gets seizures from things like the frontline flea and tick stuff that you put on the back of their neck. I simply cannot risk that.

    • Hi Susan,

      The problem lies in when you live in an area that is heavy populated with other dogs whose owners are not doing anything to control fleas and ticks. On the other hand if you are living in a home or neighborhood where there are no other dogs on site/next door fleas and ticks will not be a problem.

      NexGuard is another flea and tick preventative that we have more recently given to Maggie on occasion. Perhaps this would be an option for your dog if/when needed?

      Kind regards,

      • Susan and Tiki

        Thank you for the info. Unfortunately it says “Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures” and it is by Frontline, the very company that makes the product that gives my dog seizures. I was asked to join a group of people who is currently suing Frontline (although I did not join them in doing so). It’s products have actually killed dogs who are sensitive I am sorry to say.

        I am curious, are there parts of Nicaragua that have a lower incidence of fleas? That is my main concern as I can inspect him every day and remove ticks. Do you know any really good veterinarians that use a more holistic approach?

        • Hi Susan,

          Fleas have never been a problem for us.

          It’s the ticks that are worrisome as they carry disease that can lead to death if not treated. Maggie has had tick borne disease 2 times in the span of her 4 1/2 year life. We caught it at the very beginning and treated it with a 30 day course of antibiotics.

          Our veterinarian is Dr. Faran Dometz. He uses traditional medicine. I am not aware of whether or not there are any vets in country using a holistic approach.

          Kind regards,

  14. Kristin Kolenic

    Thank you very much! I contacted Dr. Faran Dometz via Facebook who helped me review the tests of another vet for my dog who got the tick disease (2 actually). I cannot wait to go and meet him with our pup in person. Very knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you for sharing. I feel very comfortable now that my pup will be ok.

  15. Very cool! I have a mini schnauzer and live in Managua. His name is Max and is the sweetest dog…. I am trying to figure out how to take him to the USA with me next year I’m due for some time state side and will be gone 6-12 months…. He will need to come with me… And then back here again… When I return. Do you know anything about dogs bought here returning to the USA? I met someone who travels back and forth with their dog and said he just needs a vet check and proof of shots…

  16. Thanks for this! Any guidance on Honduras and Mexico? We have to drive through to get to Nica?

  17. My husband and I are strongly considering moving to Nicaragua after he retires from the military. Do you have any information on how hard it may be to rent with multiple pets? We have been animal rescuers (now retired from that!). Moving without them would be a no go for us. I also realize we may have to sacrifice and live in a house that may be a bit less because of the animals and we are fine with that. I would LOVE a fenced yard that’s not shared, do you think that would be asking a lot?

    • Hi Vicki,

      We have helped plenty of families with more than one pet find rental homes here. To give you a couple of examples last month we had a family of 4 move here with two big dogs and a cat. Next month we have a retired couple arriving with a dog and a cat. We also have another family of 4 arriving with two large dogs.

      Most times the homeowner will ask for an additional pet deposit ranging from $250 – $500 USD. There are very few homes here with completely enclosed fenced yards.

      Hope this information helps!


  18. This is great info. We are travel bloggers for “with a small dog” travel. We want to head to Nica and then Costa Rica. Is the border crossing something you have done?

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