One Dog’s Experience Having Surgery in Mexico

The patient, Baxter

Readers often ask us to write more posts about the quality and cost of veterinarian care in Mexico. That’s why we decided to do a quick post to share the story of Baxter, a 13-year old Miniature Schnauzer who recently had surgery in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

We actually know Baxter very well because he belongs to two of our closest friends here in Mexico.

Diagnosis, Surgery and Aftercare

Baxter has a history of fatty tumors. During his latest exam at a veterinary clinic in Playa del Carmen, the vet noticed he had large tumor that wrapped around his whole mid section, which didn’t feel like the other tumors.

He told our friend that the options would be: 1) to do nothing; however, there was a strong chance that it would rupture and cause internal bleeding, or 2) do surgery to remove the tumor. Although Baxter is older, he is still a very active dog, so the choice was clear.

It took a little over an hour to remove the three pound tumor from Baxter’s liver. While he was under the anesthesia, the vet also removed a fatty tumor that was about the size of a small grapefruit, and a growth on Baxter’s eyelid that was becoming bothersome.

The procedure went very well and the vet’s office even called to check on Baxter once he was back home.


The surgical procedure (which included the return visit to remove the stitches) cost $8,500 pesos or approximately $459 U.S. dollars.

That amount did not include the pre-surgery office visit or the aftercare prescriptions (pain medication and antibiotics).

Let’s Wrap This Up

Baxter is doing very well and our friends have nothing but great things to say about quality of care and cost of veterinary care in Mexico.

I’m not sure how much this surgery would have been in the U.S., but I think it’s safe to assume that it would have been substantially more expensive.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

27 Comments on "One Dog’s Experience Having Surgery in Mexico"

  1. All I can tell you is my dog had a small fatty tumor in his leg removed last weekend. It was over $600.00 That sounds super reasonable.

  2. Joan Dervin | April 5, 2018 at 10:35 am |

    WOW! That’s incredible. That might cost $4000.00 in Canada.
    Good to know.

  3. Jason Kinsey | April 5, 2018 at 10:35 am |

    That’s amazing. We just had an issue with Oliver (our poodle). Between 2 vet visits we have spent almost $500 on office visits. That is only including a upper respitory panel, and a small prescription. I’m going back today to pick up 2 more medications that should fix him, so we will see how much that is.
    The internal medicine specialist that we went to also, wanted to do a CT scan and that was quoted at $800, and then if he needed the surgery it was expected to be $2-3,000 on top of that. This was all for an issue with his breathing, which we have since found out from another vet it is bordetella, AKA kennel cough. Even though he is vaccinated yearly for it, he still somehow caught. We are guessing it was the groomer since he is never around other dogs. This will all be treated without an CT scan or surgery, and just a prescription or two.
    I’ll also just mention his yearly vaccines alone run about $450…We can’t wait to get back down to Mexico!

  4. Linda Zaworski | April 5, 2018 at 10:45 am |

    Just one word of caution. Be sure that your vet is a graduate of an accredited veterinary school . To my knowledge, that is either Guadalajara or Mexico City although there may be others . Both of those schools are AVMA accredited . It may not be a big problem on the mainland, but in La Paz we have a vet school that is not accredited and may never be as they don’t even have microscopes to go around, much less other instrumentation needed for accurate diagnosis. Nevertheless, graduates hang their shingles and open oractices I think of them as vo-tech vets .Fine for shots, parasites, etc. But for anything more involved seek the services of an accredited vet school graduate .

  5. Karen L Walpole | April 5, 2018 at 10:51 am |

    Thanks for sharing this information! Pet care is a huge deal for us with moving down there so I really love the pet articles!! Thanks Paul!!

  6. Tracy and Glenn McDougall | April 5, 2018 at 10:52 am |

    Thanks, Paul, for that extremely informative post about vet care in Mexico, and, in particular, Playa.

    We, too, have a Mini Schnauzer, Sophie, and she is 16 years old. She is still quite active and in very good health.

    Throughout the years she has had procedures to remove gall stones and the procedures have cost as much as $2,000 Canadian and upwards. She gets excellent vet care here in Ottawa, Ontario, but the costs are nuts!! We hope to spend out winters in MX at some point and though it won’t be Sophie we’ll be travelling with, it may be another Schnauzer. Good to know the vets are affordable in case of any emergencies.

    I’m so glad that Baxter is doing well and may be around for another 5-7 years!!


  7. Marcia Florian | April 5, 2018 at 10:56 am |

    Hey Paul,
    My husband and I are also retired PD and expats too. We had a similar experience with a fabulous vet in Ensenada (Baja California) who is also an Orthopedic Specialist. We adopted a young pup and later determined he had debilitating hip displasia, which is probably why he ended up at a rescue organization. In the states it would have cost $1,800 + for the procedure, a Femoral Head Ostectomy. Our Vet in Ensenada did the procedure for $750 (US), we paid in pesos. That fee also included all follow up visits and pain meds. Four years later our pup is still running on all four skids with great joy.
    However, we have not been so fortunate in our winter hangout, Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, which is just 60 miles from the US border. The vets there charge US prices, have antiquated equipment, often misdiagnose and very few stay in business long.

  8. Linda Snider | April 5, 2018 at 10:59 am |

    I have an aging mini schnauzer that I am bringing to Mexico. Good to know! Thanks again!

  9. We live at Lake Chapala, Mexico. Excellent vet care. One of our dogs had a torn ligament in her leg. Cost for ALL vet visits, Meds, X-rays was equivalent of about $330 usd. Complete bloodworkup and vet exam for our 8 year old dog as preventative care was about $75usd

  10. Teeth cleaning……In the US $350 USD and up depending on whether extractions are necessary. Here in Mexico…$45-50 USD. Love it.

    • Wow… teeth cleaning in MX is only $45-50? I was thinking about having both our dogs teeth cleaned before we move down to QRoo hopefully in the next year, but now I’m thinking I should wait. My vet charges around $500! Is that just brushing their teeth or putting them under anesthesia and using dental tools?

  11. Paul, thank you for the article about pet care. Would you share the name of the vet via email to me? We moved to Puerto Morelos with 2 Yorkies and a Bichon King Cavalier mix.

    Thank you,
    Judy Ewer

  12. Elena Budjako | April 5, 2018 at 12:34 pm |

    Recently my neighbor took their 9 year old golden retriever to an oncologist to remove a mass pressing on her thoracic area causing her to breath shallowly. The benign mass turned out to be the size of a picnic roast! Although their pooch is very lucky, I’m not sure I would be able to afford over $6000 USD to save a beloved dog

  13. Lesley Silverman | April 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm |

    I love reading about vet care. We moved here 5 weeks ago, living in Playa del Carmen. We have 2 Havanese. 6 & 9 yrs old. Will you please tell me the name of the vet that your friends went to Paul? Also if you know of a great groomer.
    Thank you

  14. Rene Dobbins | April 5, 2018 at 1:25 pm |

    My 9 yo female dog had a varicose vein in her eye that rubbed through into the sclera just above the cornea, causing an ulcer. Took her to the vet in Puerto Vallarta where the vet did surgery. She was there 1+ weeks, was groomed with nails trimmed, got two take home packages of parasite medicine as well as flea/tick medicine and the total bill was $370.41 American. The vet and staff were very caring, emailed me about her condition during her stay – couldn’t have asked for more.

  15. Ingrid Royle | April 5, 2018 at 1:43 pm |

    Thank you so much for this valuable information. There is so much to find out before moving to Mexico.

  16. Kelly Roscoe | April 5, 2018 at 4:19 pm |

    Thank you! Bringing two dogs with us when we move in a few months. Good information.

  17. While we may be 10 years of hoping to become Expats (Canada) we love all of your articles. Knowledge is Power. 🙂 And with three dogs currently (most won’t be alive in 10 given their age – it is good to know) Thank you 🙂

  18. We thought our Westie needed immediate surgery with cataracts, I called a vet in Florida to see what could be done. For two eyes, about $4000.00! I was stunned! The response for one eye was “Only $3400!” Only! Something wrong about this pricing!
    By the way, she had a terrible itching problem. Our vet here in Playa looked at the prescription (from Florida), and immediately told us to discontinue usage. It contained poison! What a horrible thought that we were poisoning our beloved pet so she wouldn’t itch!
    So all it took was to put her on a sensitive skin diet. No more pills, no more itching. Seems as though our vet here has more compassion for the well-being of our pet.
    Living here in Mexico agrees with us, and our pet, too!

  19. Cathy Magana | April 5, 2018 at 11:19 pm |

    We also have a mini schnauzer. However a month ago a taxi in Morelia stole him. After a week we got him back but in bad shape. The vet we took him to said he had a ruptured spleen and needed emergency surgery to have it removed. The surgery went well but we felt he was not being cared for post surgery. We moved him to another veterinary hospital. They examined him and did a second surgery when they found something did not look correct. They discovered the first vet when removing the spleen damaged our dogs stomach and pancreas. He was given a 50/50 chance of surviving.
    Luckily he pulled through but the second vet was shocked at the unprofesional work that had been done.
    In summary not all vets are equal even though the first one had great reviews.

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