San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Among the things one might count as a bargain in Costa Rica compared to the United States is veterinary care. Recently, a vet made a house call during which he treated two dogs, spending at least a half-hour removing two torcelos (worms growing from eggs implanted by botflies) from the paw of one, a very large dog that barks at cars but does not ride in them. The cost for the visit plus medication was ¢11,600, or about $22.

Surprisingly, some medications are relatively inexpensive in Costa Rica. For example, at a veterinary office in Tilarán, Frontline Plus flea and tick control for small dogs costs ¢2,500 ($4.70) for a one-month treatment or a total of ¢7,500 ($14) for three months of treatment. Pet medicine sites online give a regular price of about $75 for a three-month supply, though most are now offering reduced prices – such as $31.63 on – perhaps because in today’s economy killing your dog’s ticks and fleas is a luxury a lot of people can’t afford. A relative in the United States recently paid $150 for a blood test for a small dog. A blood test here (probably for different factors) a few months ago cost ¢5,000 (about $9.40).

Last year, we met a visiting Ohio veterinarian who thought he might move to Costa Rica and open a practice here. He all but chortled over the fees he commanded in the U.S. A little price research here quickly killed his plan.

–Alex Murray

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