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Can I Bring My Pets to Ecuador? Flights, Litter, Culture Shock

Our pets often become a part of our families. So when we relocate, it opens up the question of how to move them to our new city. In this post, we’ll cover moving pets to Ecuador, how to fly with a pet, litter training a dog for apartment living, and how a new pet can help with culture shock. 

Bringing Pets to Ecuador?

Can I bring my pet to Ecuador? It’s a great question. The information online is kind of spotty. We have two sources for the content in this post.

  1. A fellow Canadian Expat (living in Cuenca) who has moved her pets to-and-from-and-to Ecuador. Obviously, she knows what’s needed.
  2. A relocation law firm here in Cuenca, Ecuador: Idrovo & Velastegui Abogados (see contact info at the bottom of the post).


Holly Walker, Canadian Expat Living in Cuenca

Holly is a reader and fellow Canadian (and now fellow Cuencana) and she offers some insight into bringing pets into the country.

We brought our cat with us when we initially moved and our dog (purchased in Cuenca last year) has been to Saskatchewan and back.

As far as getting an animal into Ecuador goes it’s a fairly straightforward process — as long as you follow all of the Ecuadorian guidelines. I phoned the Ecuadorian embassy in one city and the Ecuadorian consulate in another just to cross-check information. When we brought our cat we weren’t asked for any of the paperwork. However, when we came back with our dog they checked everything. So there’s just no telling…

Any problems we did encounter were with the airline(s) themselves, so my advice to anyone considering bringing their pet is to make sure you double or even triple-check any information they give you.

I would avoid at all costs sending a pet as cargo, because anything flying cargo has to go through customs so there is the potential for your pet to end up siting in a cargo facility for hours or even days. If they are small enough have them in the cabin with you (some airlines still allow it) or fly them as checked baggage.

Idrovo & Velastegui Abogados – Cuenca Law Firm

The law firm that we recommend here in Cuenca (without any financial incentive, by the way) gave me this link.

They commented that this site is:  “very helpful for persons with questions about bringing their pets to Ecuador from the U.S.”

The law office here in Cuenca, that specializes in Visas and Relocation. A friend of ours, also an expat, works in the office. She will handle your email. You can address your email to Rebecca McCleskey. By the way, Abogado is lawyer in Spanish.

Here is the contact information for the law firm:

Idrovo & Velastegui Abogados – Cuenca Law Firm
Dr. Grace Velastegui, Attorney at law
Luis Cordero 6-41 y P. Cordova
Cuenca – Ecuador
(593) 7 407-9358 Phone
(593) 996 110 451 Cell

What’s your experience? Have you brought your pets? Or are you planning to?

What I Learned About Flying With a Dog (Across Continents)

Flying with a dog wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. Especially because our dog was too large to fit in the cabin with us.


Chica at the Quito airport

We recently moved from Ecuador (South America) back to Canada with our dog and it took a huge amount of planning! There were a lot of details to figure out.

We were traveling through 3 countries, each with its own regulations on pet travel. And then there were the airline regulations as well.

National flights (within the United States for example) may be pretty straightforward, but things can get complicated when you need to travel to another country.

These are the 3 major factors to consider:

  • Health regulations
  • Time of year
  • Flight/airport regulations

Health Regulations

When it came to flying with a dog we had to comply with country and airline health regulations.

This included vaccinations and papers to prove the physical health of our pet. It also included the specifics on what kind of carrier was allowed and the other supplies needed to keep our dog comfortable during the flight.


In Cuenca getting the vet certificate

Some of the documentation we needed had time limits. In arranging our flights out of Ecuador one of the documents (vet certificate) had a 7-day expiration. And both of the government-issued documents for national and international travel had a 48-hour expiration. Factoring this into our plans shaped our travel itinerary.

We also had to get the papers translated into English for the US and Canadian airports we would travel through.
We had to check the type of carrier required by the airline we were thinking of flying with. The regulations were strict and needed to be met – or our pet could have been rejected causing us to have to reschedule our flights.


Safe airline worthy carriers

Our carrier had to have ventilation on all 4 sides, metal hardware (including screws) the proper door enclosure, absorbent material, handles on the top and both sides, and food and water dishes.

We had to make our own screws (we cut a threaded rod and bought washers and lock nuts) because it came with plastic and we couldn’t find the proper sized ones in Cuenca. We also had to label the carrier with “Live Animal” stickers in English and Spanish, use zip-ties on the 4 corners and include a pouch with food and identification/contact info.

Tip: Check the airline website well in advance of your desired travel time because it could take you longer than you think to locate an acceptable dog carrier in your area. At least that was our experience in Cuenca Ecuador.

If you can’t find one in your area you could order one on Amazon and have it shipped to you. You can also order a travel packet with the odds and ends needed (zip-ties, food pouch…) which could save a lot of running around.

Flying With a Dog: When?!

If your dog is too large to travel in the cabin with you, time of year matters!

This came as a surprise to us. We had to make sure that the location of each airport (5 altogether) along the way was neither too hot nor too cold for the dog. Many airline carriers have rules and will only accommodate flying with a dog during specific months to ensure the safety of your pet.

Tip: Don’t assume that you can just plan your flight for any time during the year, you need to do your homework well in advance.

We checked available flights and then went to the company website to make sure they carried pets. Then we had to check the window of time open for safe pet travel with each airline.

Because we were checking with more than one company (trying to find the best price) this became a headache, but was necessary because we didn’t want any major “surprises” getting in the way of our pet making the trip with us.

Flight/Airport Regulations for Pet Travel

Not all airline carriers carry pets. And there are some that do, but only on certain planes.

Because we were flying with a dog internationally we had a number of stopovers and needed to change planes. This could have created a problem because the flight we were landing on may have carried dogs, but the flight we were transferring to, may not have. We ran into that problem when looking into flights from our last stopover in the U.S. to our destination city in Canada.

Before we booked our flights we had to check each flight specifically to make sure that type of plane would accept our pet. To do this, we went to the airline website and checked the type and the number of each plane noted on our proposed itinerary. We realized that it was very important to read the “fine print.”


In the Quito airport

Then we had to figure out if we would need to pick up our pet during our stopover or not. At some stopovers, we needed to get our pet, take her to the pet relief station, feed and water her, and give her some love and exercise.

At others, we didn’t. It was also helpful to check out maps of the airports (locating relief areas) we would be going through. This saved us time and confusion during our travel.

We also needed to check our dog earlier than normal luggage, so we had to allow extra time for that.

Start Planning Well In Advance Of Desired Travel Time

As you can see, when flying with a dog there was a lot to consider! We needed to plan well in advance and be prepared for bumps along the way.

Tip: If possible, it’s best to go to the airport and talk with the airline to make sure your pet will be allowed on the flight.

We learned this the hard way. We had called the airline we were flying out of Cuenca with and pre-registered our dog for the flight (a necessary step with all flights.) We were told everything was good to go.

When we called back a few days before the flight just to make sure (also an important step) we were told that someone else had taken our spot! This created some panic in our family.

We decided it would be best go to the airport to make sure, it turned out everything was fine and our dog was still scheduled to make the flight.

The problem with calling the airlines was that their call centers are outsourced. This led to confusion because, as we found out, the person on the other end didn’t know what they were talking about.

We were told the airline had changed their policy and no longer carried pets from Cuenca to Quito, which wasn’t true.

This kind of mix-up can be very frustrating when trying to make important travel plans because you think you are talking with informed employees, but you may not be. Check and double-check everything.

Path Of Least Resistance

In trying to tie all of these details together (including 4 flights) we found it best to fly with Delta for the majority of our flight. They had the most pet friendly flights, and it saved a lot of headaches. We didn’t have to worry as much about changing airlines (and meeting their different regulations) as we managed our pet, and our mountain of luggage.

It was more expensive to go that way, but peace of mind is worth a lot. And because we had so much luggage, traveling first class (a first for us) cost less than coach because of the higher luggage allowance.

Our trip back took over 24 hours (including stopovers) and to have the extra leg room (Bryan is 6’3″) was pretty nice. It also meant we got off the flights quicker so we could get to the dog to take care of her. Using this trick saved us hundreds on our flights.

It was our first time flying with a dog and we were concerned about her. She did great, and it was well worth all the planning and headaches!

We got her the month after we moved to Ecuador. She shared everything with us over our 6 years there, leaving her behind didn’t feel like an option. Our daughter was 8 when we arrived in Ecuador, having to leave was hard enough, we didn’t want to leave her BFF behind.


When Chica was a baby

Having our dog back in Canada with us is wonderful!


Our daughter with her Chica in Canada


Bryan and Chicha on the coast in Canada

Have you had any experience flying with a dog? Please share your tips by commenting on this post.

How to Litter Train a Puppy (For Apartment Living)

When we moved to Ecuador our daughter was lonely because she didn’t have any friends, and she was frustrated because of having to get used to a new language.  She really wanted a puppy, and we felt it was important to get her one for companionship.

One of the biggest problems that came to my mind was my lazy attitude toward taking the dog out multiple times each day to “go”.  We were living in an apartment, so there was more involved than simply opening the door and letting the dog out to do its business.  So I decided to litter train the dog.

litter train a dog - the gear

I didn’t even know it was possible to litter train a dog, until I was doing research on dog breeds that do well in apartments. So I decided to give it a try and now, two years later we have a dog that never has to go out to “go”.

She just does her thing in the litter box and I scoop it out once a day, no mess around the house or yard, everyone is happy and my lazy attitude remains intact.

litter train a dog

What I Needed

  • A crate (for the puppy to sleep in)
  • A large litter box (I use a plastic storage container)
  • Newspaper (to start, then I switched to cat litter)
  • A lot of patience and a large portion of stubborn piled on the side

How I Litter Trained Our Puppy

  1. Lined the crate with newspaper, and put the puppy in it to sleep
  2. Lined the litter box with newspaper
  3. First thing in the morning took some soiled newspaper out of the crate and rubbed the urine on the paper in the litter box so the puppy got the scent of where to “go”
  4. Took the puppy out of the crate and put it in the litter box, didn’t let it out till it “went,” used a command “go now” so the dog associated the command with “going”
  5. After the pup ate, repeated step 4, after the pup played a lot repeated step 4, after the pup drank a lot repeated step 4, after the pup took a nap repeated step 4, when I saw the pup sniffing and circling the floor repeated step 4, when I saw the pup looking sideways at me repeated step 4 (just kidding, but that’s how I felt)
  6. Had patience and was stoic in my stubbornness because the pup kept trying to jump out of the litter box, I had to keep putting it back, or blocking escape attempts, and I had to keep repeating the command to “go now”.
  7. Was prepared for accidents, I forgot when to put the pup in the box and the pup had accidents.  It helped to reprimand the pup (with a stern “NO”) and take some of the accident to rub on the paper in the litter box, then put the pup in the litter box and repeat the command. Even if the pup didn’t go again this helped reinforce the association

After the pup was trained I tried switching to cat litter.  Our pup tried to eat the litter, so I had to keep using newspaper and testing with the litter until she was old enough to train not to eat it.

litter train a dogI’m glad I stuck to it and trained the pup because now I enjoy not having to leash the dog, unlock all the doors, and stand around outside waiting.  I’m happy to say that I don’t miss the feeling of embarrassment while my neighbors watch my dog “going” and then watch me scooping.  It’s also nice to have the peace of mind that I don’t have to rush home just to let the dog out to “go”.  There are a lot of dogs roaming the streets here (mostly pets that are just allowed to run) so litter training works well to keep our dog home and safe.

If you have any tips about traveling or making living abroad easier with a pet, please share by commenting on this post.

How a Little Puppy Almost Eliminated Culture Shock in Ecuador

In this post, I’ll share how we helped our daughter deal with culture shock when we moved to Ecuador.

Puppy Almost Eliminated Culture Shock
Moving abroad is a pretty big undertaking. It’s exciting, exhilarating, fascinating and challenging. We have really enjoyed the experience. Our emotions have run the whole gamut of what would be expected to what just can’t be anticipated.

When moving abroad with children in tow it’s even more difficult to foresee what challenges they will experience emotionally, and how these things will be exhibited.

We expected that our daughter would miss her friends and family, our old house, and her old things. What we didn’t anticipate, was the effect that that not being able to communicate would have on her.

What Our Daughter Needed When We Moved to Ecuador

Our daughter has always had a need for never-ending input. When this need was no longer being fulfilled in the language area it caused her body to go into hyperdrive. It was hard to calm her down when we were out, and when we got home she was extra active and emotional.

She didn’t understand what was wrong, but it didn’t take us long to figure it out. We realized we had to do something to help her adjust.

Something to take the place of what she was not getting mentally, until she got used to not understanding, and could start to decipher the new language she was hearing.

Before we made our move we talked about the many positive changes this move would mean for our family. Like having more time together, learning a new language, experiencing a new culture and possibly getting a dog.

Well, this last one was her favorite and helped her see the move in a positive way. We told her that we would need at least a year in Ecuador before we would get a dog, and she was fine with this. We were wrong.

We Lasted One Month…

We decided to get a puppy after just one month. We were hoping that it would be what she needed to take her extra energy and emotion, we were right.

She was on top of the world; the puppy took all of her attention. She was so happy she forgot about the frustration churning inside her.

Bringing Chica home in a box
Chica, a fuzzy soft white ball of warm energy made it all better. The extra work was welcome when we saw the huge difference this new little member of our family was making.

Who knew our daughter’s new best friend (and the most powerful help to her in adjusting) could be had for 30 dollars at the local market?

avoiding culture shock in Ecuador
We’ve been here for over a year now and things are calm and normal (most of the time). But this experience has taught us a good lesson in being flexible.

For the first six or seven months when I would see that things were getting to be a little too much, I would just say “this is a vacation day” and we would go to the city for the day, or play games and watch movies (in English) all day.

Being flexible (and getting the dog) made adjusting bearable for our 8-year-old. And she still thanks me almost every day for her very powerful pooch.

Our Daughters Thoughts (The Joys of Having a Pet)

There are many wonderful experiences of pet-owning. But there are also many drawbacks. Some of the joys are playing with it, brushing it, washing it, just to mention a few.

But there is also work involved. You have to feed it, water it, and pickup after it. Having a pet can be compared to having a sibling – especially if it’s a dog or cat. You can play with a sibling, but you also have to help take care of him or her.

Here in Ecuador, there are many kinds of pets. You can get a rabbit, a dog, a cat, a bird, a few fish, or even a pig. Here there is sometimes more involved in taking care of an animal. You have to give it parasite medication every few months, as well as flea medication. At least that would be a good thing to do.

As you can see in this picture, I was playing with Chica by covering her in a blanket, it was very fun!

And in the other picture is an example of what she does very frequently, put her toy in dad’s shoes. It is very funny, and a little annoying.

If you come here, you should be prepared to see different treating of animals. Not everyone, but some people don’t treat animals like they do in Canada and the USA.

They may pick a dog (or cat) up by one paw and swing them onto their lap. They do like the animals, but they just treat them a little differently.

I hope that if you get to relocate to Ecuador, you will be able to get a super puppy like mine!

Thank you for reading.

Your Turn

Are you planning on getting (or bringing) a pet when you move?

Erik Morris

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Very much wanting to expat to Ecuador, but have a Pit Bull dog my wife absolutely will not part with. I know Pits were on a "banned breed" list some years ago.... Are Pit Bulls still illegal in Ecuador? Erik Morris


Saturday 31st of March 2018

Howdy, I see a lot of information here about dogs and cats, but we are considering a move to Ecuador and we have a parrot. Are there special regulations for birds? Can we bring her at all?


Sunday 29th of April 2018

I'm interested in information about birds, too. We've got a Meyer's parrot and are considering relocation within 18 months.


Saturday 20th of August 2016

Does anyone know if there's any way around getting 5 vaccinations and an internal and external parasite treatment for my elderly cat? She's got some age-related health issues (nothing contagious), and her vet feels that all those toxins could be detrimental to her. I saw that it mentions age on the health form. I assume they were referring to not needing certain vaccines for very young kittens, but I wonder if it could also apply to an old, sick cat too.


Wednesday 17th of February 2016

We have just got to Quito Ecuador and let me tell you my dogs were keep from me, after we got here they keep them in a warehouse for about 22 hours no food or water because one of the shipping labels came off so to make a long story short for you it takes money, a lot of crying and a lot of paper work if you have dogs I would tell you Not to bring your dogs here it is a big different between here and the USA my dogs are still looking for grass.


Wednesday 23rd of March 2016

How much money? What paperwork? How had you originally a fixed the label? Where they in their crates the whole 22 hours? Would flying into Gauyaquil be better idea? I'm coming quite soon, they have to come with me. I have heard nothing too negative about bringing pets until this. It is upsetting.

Donna Stiteler

Saturday 9th of November 2013

I am bringing 5 dogs. All of their rabies shots JUST expired in October. I am taking them to the vet on 11/10/2013 to get their shots (so really they only have 10 days with an 'expired' rabies shot). The information says that dogs must have their rabies shots 60 days prior to entering Ecuador. If this is the case, then do I have to wait 60 days from getting their 'renewal' shorts? They get their shots every years. This year, I just got the notice last week that they were due? We want to spend Christmas in Cuenca but not without our dogs. Help! Donna


Friday 16th of December 2016