Pets are members of our family and we want the very best for them but all those trips to the vet can really add up. Some San Diegans are choosing to cross the border in search of cheaper care.
Tania García is one of them. She’s the proud pet parent of two dogs – Bailey and George. “They’re family,” García said. “I would say they’re like my kids, they mean the world to me.”
García lives in North Park but has crossed the border into Tijuana, Mexico in search of veterinary clinics.
“I’ve paid $500 for an x-ray here versus like $100 or less in Mexico,” García said. “I don’t think it’s the quality of care, the price is the difference.”
García points out the importance of doing your homework before taking your dog or cat to the vet, no matter which side of the border.
“I do research on this side, like the veterinarians and it’s easier here than to research the ones down in Mexico. That’s why I rely a lot on recommendations and sources.”
Christian Alexander, a veterinarian in Tijuana says he has a lot of clients from the U.S. “About 50% of our clientele comes from the United States, San Diego predominantly, but we have a lot of clients from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Arizona,” Alexander said.
Alexander told us some U.S. clients come to his clinic not just looking to save money but to save the life of their faithful companions.
“We’ve run into the inconvenience that our clients were offered significant or very important diagnostic tools in the states that can’t be afforded by them, so leaving them with uncertain options – either we do run all those tests, or we do these type of procedures with those high costs, or either we euthanize the patient,” Alexander said.
Richard Johnson, a vet in San Diego, says he’s personally seen the risks of taking your pet across the border.
“Just in the last month, we’ve seen two fracture repairs that had to be amputated because of the infection, because of the equipment they used, and just the way it was put back together,” Johnson said. “So ultimately, I just don’t see it as being anywhere near comparable to the U.S.”
Johnson says many vets in Mexico don’t have the latest technology or the most advanced equipment, and that’s one reason their prices are lower.
If you do decide to take your pet across the border, here’s how to make sure the vet you choose is legit:
- -Ask them for a copy of their professional certificate. It’s called a Cédula Profesional. Enter the number on this website. -This will confirm the vet is a doctor endorsed by health authorities.
- -Do some online research. Look for reviews and read comments about others’ experiences.
- -Ask the vet how many times they’ve performed the procedure your pet needs.
- -Look for a second opinion.
You will want to make sure you take your pet’s records with you when crossing the border, showing they are up to date on their shots. No specific documentation is required to take dogs and cats into Mexico, but border officials may ask you for papers if your pet appears to be sick.
As for García, she says her experiences in Mexico have been great so far, and that she trusts the two vets she’s visited there with her furry family members.
“The only down to that is the border. Ever since COVID hit, the border if just exhausting and you kind of have to put that into consideration, too. But they take great care of your pets.”