Tag Archive for: Pet Travel

Pet Care & Vets in Ecuador

If you’re planning to move abroad with your furry family members, you likely have many questions about the availability and quality of Ecuador Pet Care, as well as pet sitting/boarding, and dog and cat food options.

Overall, Ecuador is very pet friendly, and most people, Ecuadorians and expats alike, have one or more dogs and/or cats. That means there are plenty of options for grooming, pet sitting and veterinarians.

However, there aren’t nearly as many options for pet food as we’re used to back in the US, and the cost of quality pet food is very high.

In this article, we’ll share our experience with Ecuador Pet Care in Cuenca and Olón, as well as a few options for pet food, including our very own recipe for Cheap & Healthy Homemade Dog Food.

You may also be interested in our article about Traveling with Dogs or Cats to Ecuador from the United States…

Veterinarians in Ecuador

Veterinarians are very common in Ecuador, and most neighborhoods in the larger cities have one. However, many of the smaller rural areas do not have a veterinarian so you might need to drive an hour or more if you’re planning to live outside a city.

Olón Vet ClinicOlón Ecuador Vet Clinic

We’re very excited about our new veterinarian clinic here in Olón! Prior to this new clinic, most people took their pets to Xavier Merchan in La Libertad, which is about an hour drive south of here. That was the closest location for quality pet care and grooming services.

However, now we have a much closer option! The folks at Coastal Animal Rescue of Ecuador (CARE) worked together with the comuna leaders and neighborhood volunteers to get the clinic up and running. In just the first 2 weeks of operation, the clinic served over 100 furry patients!

The clinic is located a half block west of the main highway through Olón on Avenida 3 de Diciembre, which the road that runs between the main mercados toward the ocean.

Cuenca Animal Clinic

When we lived in Cuenca, we took Daisy and Alicia to the Cuenca Animal Clinic that was located near our house in the El Vergel neighborhood. They came highly recommended by several expats we knew, and now we recommend them, as well.

They were GREAT with our dogs, they speak English and they offer a variety of services for dogs and cats, including annual exams, toenail trims, anal gland expression, and teeth cleaning.

On the visit featured in our video, Daisy had her annual exam, toenails trimmed and teeth cleaned. The cost varies by the size of your dog, but the final bill for Daisy was $70 plus $12 for Frontline (flea and tick treatment). An annual exam without the dentistry typically costs between $15 and $20.

The Cuenca Animal Clinic also sells some higher quality dog food, as well as supplements, heartworm and flea/tick treatments.

Emergency Services

While there aren’t many emergency vet hospitals in Ecuador (or any that we know of), you’ll find that your veterinarians are much more accessible than you may have experienced in the United States.

We have the WhatsApp numbers for all of our vets and they respond almost immediately, day or night. Some vets even make house calls or they’ll meet you a their clinic for emergencies.

Dog Grooming in Ecuador

Ecuadorians love small breed, designer dogs like Pekingese, Havanese and Shih Tzus, so there are more options for small breed groomers, but you still have lots of options even if you have a bigger dog.

Grooming at the Olón Vet Clinic

As we showed in our video, you can now get your dog groomed at Olón’s new vet clinic. Olon Ecuador Vet Clinic GroomerDaisy is a short haired Heeler/Border Collie mix so she doesn’t need haircuts, but she does need a regular bath and toenail trim. Alicia is a Toy Poodle so she needs regular grooming or she looks like a giant black cotton ball. We’re very happy to have a groomer so close by now!

Maxi’s Pet Care in Cuenca

If you have a small dog (less than 20 pounds), we highly recommend Maxi’s Pet Care in Cuenca for grooming and boarding. Maxi is a tiny little Chiguagua who belongs to Jessica, the owner, groomer and pet sitter.

Jessica Maxis Pet CareWhile Jessica typically only accepts small dogs for the services she provides, she made an exception for Daisy, who weighs about 30 pounds. We took Daisy over to Jessica’s for a play date to see how she behaved around the smaller dogs. She made mom and dad proud so she was allowed to come back for baths and longer term stays.

We were really happy with the quality of the grooming services Jessica provided. She made Alicia look like a young pup again! And Daisy always came home all bushy and clean smelling. Jessica even picked our girls up at our house, and dropped them off so we didn’t need to worry about transportation.

Jessica is truly a dog whisperer! Follow her on Instagram for some of the CUTEST dog photos you’ll ever see! We have no idea how she gets the dogs to pose like they do! She also shares pictures and videos each day that your dog stays with her so you can see your fur baby while you’re away.

Contact Jessica directly for current pricing.

Dog Wash EcuadorDog Wash Ecuador

We also took Daisy to Dog Wash Ecuador in Cuenca on occasion. They were located near our home so it was a short walk to get Daisy a bath. She REALLY dislikes water and being wet, so giving her a bath is a huge pain for all involved. We prefer to let the professionals handle it.

We only took Daisy there a couple times, but they did a good job for a good price so we feel comfortable recommending them.

Pet Boarding & Pet Sitting in Ecuador

One of the great things about living in Ecuador is that it’s really close to lots of amazing places to visit, like the Amazon Rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, and so many more. While you’re busy exploring inside Ecuador and throughout South America, you’ll want to know your fur babies are being well taken care of back home.

Boarding Your Pet in Ecuador

Pet boarding in Ecuador isn’t nearly as common as hiring a pet sitter to take care of your dogs and cats while you’re away from home. In fact, there are no boarding options near our current rural comuna of Olón. Our only option is to hire a pet sitter, or take Daisy and Alicia to a friend’s house. They’re older dogs and don’t travel well so we can’t take them with us.

However, you will find several boarding options in larger cities like Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito. Whether you’ll be gone for just the day or for several weeks, we highly recommend Jessica with Maxi’s Pet Care in Cuenca if you have a small dog.

One thing we really like about Jessica’s operation is that she doesn’t kennel the dogs. They’re free to run around and play with each other, and Daisy and Alicia are able to sleep in the same bed together.

Jessica even has a nice doggie playground and they are taken for a walk every day, weather permitting.Maxis Pet Care Cuenca Ecuador

The best way to find reputable places to board your pet in Ecuador is by word-of-mouth so start by asking other expats who they trust to watch their pets while they’re away. That’s actually how most things operate in this country.

The next best option for finding places to board your pets is by asking for recommendations in Facebook Groups like Ecuador Expats, Cuenca Expats, or Olón Life.

You can also ask for a recommendation on GringoPost.com, or search their past pet boarding recommendations.

Finding a Pet and/or House Sitter in Ecuador

If you’re like us, you’ll probably prefer hiring a pet/house sitter to stay at home with your fur babies while you’re away. Keeping your pets at home while you’re gone reduces their stress level and it’s also nice to have someone watch your house rather than leaving it empty.

Again, the best option to find a pet or house sitter in Ecuador is to ask your friends and fellow expats for referrals. Allowing someone to stay in your home and be responsible for your pets while you’re traveling can be very stressful so you’ll want to make sure the person you hire is completely trustworthy.

We only hire someone who we know personally, or someone who came highly recommended by a friend we know and trust. We invite them over to meet the dogs and see how they interact well before our planned trip to makes sure everyone gets along and we like the sitter. You can expect to pay $10 to $20 per day for someone to stay at your house, depending on the number of pets.

Pet Food in Ecuador

High quality, store bought pet food is very expensive and not widely available in Ecuador. While grocery stores such as Supermaxi, Mi Comisariato and Tía sell pet food, most of it would be comparable to Purina Dog or Cat Chow, which actually is available here. However, they don’t have the highest quality ingredients.

Dog Food in Ecuador

Here are some of the dog food options at the Tía in Montañita:

When we were in Cuenca, we bought PRO PAC® Ultimates™ Meadow Prime™ at a small pet food store by Supermaxi El Vergel. However, it’s imported from the US and it’s VERY expensive: $32.50 for 2kg (4.4 pounds)! Daisy and Alicia ate about two bags per month so that was as sizeable amount of our monthly budget!

During the quarantine, we weren’t able to go back to Cuenca when we had planned so we ran out of the PRO PAC dog food pretty early in the lockdown. Consequently, we decided to try a less expensive brand that we can buy locally at Agrolon, which is an animal and garden supply store here in Olón (they have NO web presence but you can find them one block east of the main road near the soccer field).

They carry several different brands of dog and cat food, but some friends recommended Canimentos from BioAlimentar. It’s made in Ecuador so it has a smaller environmental footprint than PRO PAC and it only costs $7.50 for a 2kg bag, which is a huge cost savings for us. Plus, the dogs seem to really like it and they both seem very healthy with shiny coats and fast growing toenails so we’re going to continue with it.

We feed them CANi Adultos in the morning, and a combination of CANi and our Cheap & Healthy Homemade Dog Food (see below) in the evening.

Cat Food in Ecuador

We don’t have cats so we don’t have much experience with cat food or care in Ecuador. However, we snapped some photos of a few options for cat food and kitty litter at Tía in Montañita:

Cats aren’t nearly as common as dogs in Ecuador, so the selection of cat food is quite a bit smaller.

Cheap & Healthy Homemade Dog Food Recipe

Since quality dog food is very expensive in Ecuador, many expats choose to make their own dog food with affordable, high quality, whole food ingredients.

Dogs are true omnivores so they can eat a combination of meat, vegetables and legumes. We have a meat-free kitchen so the food we cook our dogs only has lentils and vegetables; however, we know several expats who make their own dog food using meat, rice and vegetables.


  • 400g brown lentils (uncooked)
  • 400g green peas (fresh, frozen or dry soaked)
  • 400g carrots (chopped)
  • 400g sweet potato or pumpkin (peeled and chopped)


Add all the ingredients to a pressure cooker and cover completely with water plus about an inch for good measure. Pressure cook with the vent closed on the beans setting for 24 minutes. You can also boil all the ingredients together in a large pot until the lentils are cooked and everything is soft.

The serving size varies based on the size of your dog, but we feed Daisy (she’s 30 pounds) about 1 cup for dinner with a little CANi sprinkled over the top, and she gets about 3/4 cup of CANi for breakfast.

Alicia is only 7 pounds and nearly 20 years old so she doesn’t eat much of either: about 1/3 cup of CANi in the morning and 1/4 cup of the homemade dog food for dinner with a little CANi mixed in. We soak Alicia’s CANi in water to soften it up because she has lost most of her teeth.

The options for vegan pet food in Ecuador are non-existent. We never found any in Cuenca, and we never found the nutritional supplements that are added to pet food so we opted to feed them a combination of homemade and store bought dog food to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

Ecuador Pet Care Conclusion

There are lots of different veterinarians, groomers, sitters, boarding places and pet food options to choose from in Ecuador, and it’s a very pet-friendly country so you’ll often find water bowls and treats at restaurants with outdoor seating and at pet-friendly businesses.

We’re very happy we brought our two rescue dogs with us to Ecuador, and we know lots of other expats who brought their pets with them, or adopted pets when they arrived. Truly, the worst part of bringing your pets to Ecuador is getting them here. Once they’re here, it’s easy to keep them happy and healthy.

Watch Our Video About Daisy’s Day At The Dentist




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Bringing Pets to Ecuador from the USA

Traveling with dogs or cats to Ecuador takes a lot of planning and preparation. You’ll need to get a variety of vaccinations on a very specific schedule, and you’ll need to make travel plans to fly them.

In this article, we provide all the shortcuts for the required paperwork and share our firsthand experience bringing our two dogs to Ecuador from the United States.

USDA APHIS – Traveling with Dogs or Cats to Ecuador from the USA

If you’re going to bring your pets to Ecuador, the first thing you need to do is read through all the guidelines and certificate paperwork on the USDA APHIS website. APHIS stands for “Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.”

Here’s the page with the Health Certificates for Dogs and Cats, specifically for Ecuador. You need to have this paperwork with you at all times while traveling internationally with your pets.

The next step is to find a USDA Accredited Veterinarian who can will help you fill out all the paperwork and plan your vaccine schedule. They’ll also work with the USDA to make sure everything on the paperwork and the vaccine schedule is correct. We used Town & Country Veterinary Clinic in Marietta, GA. They were very helpful and we highly recommend them if you live in the Atlanta area.

You’ll also need to find the nearest USDA APHIS office to get all the certificates endorsed. You need to make an appointment with them, and it could take a couple weeks to get on their calendar so plan accordingly.

The vaccine schedule is complicated, especially if you have multiple dogs or cats at various stages of their vaccine schedule. Daisy and Alicia both had some vaccines that had not expired yet. That meant we had to get boosters for some vaccines while making sure others were given during a specific window of time.

Even working with an accredited vet, we still made a mistake on one of the vaccines, which caused us to delay our trip by two weeks. Thankfully for us, but not for millions of other people, Hurricane Irma passed through Atlanta on the day we were supposed to leave and closed the airport, so we were able to change our flights without paying any fees.

The best way to avoid timing mistakes is to create a calendar and share it with your vet. Have them make sure everything is correct and nothing is missing or on the wrong dates. If you don’t have all the right shots at the right times, your pet will not be allowed to board the plane to Ecuador.

Is It Safe to Fly Your Pets on an Airplane?

There are a lot of horror stories that are easy to find about how dangerous it is to fly your pets, especially as cargo. However, if you look at the safety stats, it’s still safer to fly your pet in an airplane than it is to drive him or her to the airport in a car.

If your pet is small enough to fit under the seat in a soft-sided pet carrier, or if you have a registered service animal who can fly in-cabin with you, you won’t have as much cause for concern. With that said, some airlines won’t allow snub-nosed dogs like pugs or bulldogs due to their notorious breathing issues. Check with your airline about their policy relating to these types of dogs if you have one.

As for checking your large dog as cargo, that’s a whole different story. It is very safe to fly your dog in the temperature and pressure controlled cargo area of the plane, but it can be very stressful to hand your fur baby over to an airline employee and watch him or her disappear behind a door into the bowels of the airport. It’s a leap of faith for sure, but thousands of pets are flown on airplanes every year with very few incidents.

Some airlines prohibit large dog crates and will only allow dogs to be checked as cargo during certain times of the year when the temperatures at the departure and destination airports aren’t too hot or too cold. Be sure to check with the airline about their rules and plan your trip accordingly.

We moved to Ecuador without Daisy (my Heeler/Border Collie mix shown here) because it was too hot to fly her in cargo. She stayed with her grandma in Atlanta until the weather changed and we were able to go back to get her.

Even then, we still had issues due to weather. Atlanta had a freak cold snap in November with 8 inches of snow and it was too cold to fly her so we rented a car and drove to Miami. The car rental was very expensive and changing our flights was a huge hassle.

The trip was very stressful for her and it took several days for her to forgive us for the whole experience, but she’s our baby and we didn’t want to leave her behind.

If you have an older or unhealthy pet, or your dog is too large to fly in cargo, you have two options. First, you can find a new home for your pet with a family member or friend. We know a few people who have done this. It’s a tough decision, but it may be the best option for your fur baby.

Second, you can charter a flight if you have sufficient funds. We also know people who have done this. The cost is between $20,000 and $30,000 so it’s not something the average person could afford.

Whether you decide to find a new home or bring your dogs or cats to Ecuador is a tough decision, but we’re very happy our two dogs are here with us.

Pet Transport Services

We also researched pet transport and relocation services before we moved to Ecuador. These services handle all the logistics of transporting your dog or cat to your new home in Ecuador. They’ll pick your pet up, take them to the airport and make sure they get on the plane safely. Then someone else will pick them up at the destination city and deliver them to your new home.

We opted not to go this route because these services are very expensive and they fly the pets in a commercial airplane just like we did. The only difference is we wouldn’t have been there with Alicia in-cabin or with Daisy when we dropped her off at the checkin counter or picked her up in Guayaquil.

We decided the cost wasn’t worth it and we wanted to be with our babies as much as possible during the stressful experience.

Pet Friendly Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil Ecuador

Air Suites Hotel GuayaquilWe stayed in Air Suites Hotel in Guayaquil. It’s only a few blocks from the airport, it’s very affordable and they accept pets. We’ve stayed there several times and it typically costs about $35/night. The rooms are small, but they’re very clean.

You can walk to Mall del Sol, which is about 10 blocks away. That mall has all the modern stores you would see in the US or Europe with a sizable food court and lots of nice restaurants. We featured a bit of Mall del Sol in this video: Guayaquil Ecuador: It’s a LOT Different!

We don’t recommend walking to the mall or back to the hotel at night, but it’s safe during the day. Just stay aware of your surroundings like you would anywhere.

Renting a Home that Accepts Pets in Ecuador

Not all landlords in Ecuador will accept pets, and some will only accept small dogs like Alicia. Daisy is considered a large dog here even though she’s only 30 pounds.

Ecuador has a culture of negotiation so you may be able to convince a potential landlord to accept your pet, but they might want to meet your fur baby first. Pet deposits aren’t common in Ecuador, but you could offer one to sweeten the deal.

Pet Services in Ecuador

We now live on the coast in Olón, Ecuador, which doesn’t have the same types of pet services that Cuenca does. Most people take their pets to La Libertad about an hour drive south of Olón, but we are getting a new vet clinic with a full time vet and a vet tech. Once they officially open for business and we have more information about them, we’ll update this article.

We highly recommend these pet service providers in Cuenca, Ecuador:

See Also: Pet Care & Vets in Ecuador

Watch Our Video About Bringing Our Pets to Ecuador



Get the Free Move Abroad Checklist

Enter your email address here to get our Unconventional Newsletter with all sorts of timely information about living abroad, online income and achieving financial independence.
You'll also get immediate access to our Move Abroad Checklist that will walk you through the process of wrapping up your life at home and moving to a new country.

PLUS, there are several other free perks in our Live Abroad Toolkit we think you'll enjoy!