Last Updated: Dec 30, 2011
Costa Rican veterinary services are both high quality and affordable, and offer the standard range of pet care, like annual exams, vaccinations, and spay or neuter surgeries. Sophisticated facilities and equipment are the norm in most Central Valley vet clinics, but may be more difficult to find in rural areas.
As you would in any new town, look for a vet who is friendly, knowledgeable and happy to answer your questions. Since many locales have several veterinarians, ask neighbors or friends for a recommendation. Some vets offer home visits, which can be very convenient if you don't have a car or your pet gets anxious in public. Many vets speak some English, and those practicing in the Central Valley area are more likely to be fluent, and have expat clients.
You may find that some veterinarians improvise to keep costs down. For example, it is not uncommon for a vet clinic to run out of someone's home; this does not equate to sub-standard care. Some vets also prescribe human medicines – since the equivalent in animal-sized doses can be expensive. Also, while your vet will deworm your pet or apply flea medication, he or she may recommend doing it yourself to save the exam fee.
Emergency vet services are available though certain 24-hour clinics and animal hospitals, and cost approximately double what you would pay at your vet's office. Specialized procedures, including complicated surgeries and x-rays, are usually outsourced to animal hospitals and larger vet clinics.
Large animal veterinarians are prevalent in small towns and rural areas, especially near farming communities. There are numerous vets throughout the country that specialize in equine medicine, and offer general check-ups, anemia tests, vaccines, mesotherapy, colic treatments, and emergency care. These vets generally work via house calls, and their prices vary depending on services required and number of animals. Note that vet fees are generally more expensive in urban areas such as Escazu and Santa Ana. Below is a sampling of costs for standard services on cats and dogs.
House Call: $20-$80
De-worming: $1.50 per pill for at-home worming or $15
Boarding: $20-$30 per night
Exam Fee: $12-$30
Exam Fee-Emergency: $30-$50
Vaccinations: $8-$20 each
Hospitalization: $30+ per night, depending on your pet's needs