I will preface this by saying that I realize that many expats don’t have pets when they live abroad, mainly because they may move on again and it’s difficult to move with a furry friend. My husband and I, on the other hand, are completely owned by our two-year old French bulldog, Elphie. Of course, since having pets (on a large-scale) is a relatively new thing here, I thought I would offer you some of my experiences!
If you are from America, then you are probably used to having pet superstores like Petsmart and Petco at your fingertips. Obviously, this is not the case here. There are pet stores (they are called zoo markets here) all over the city. You don’t have much selection as far as pet food goes, but I believe that Royal Canine is the highest quality brand here (I have a dog, so I can’t offer much advice on other pets…though if my readers can offer some in the comments section, it would be really appreciated, I think finding cat litter is an issue here). After reading a lot about what is put into dog food, my husband and I decided to make our pooch’s food at home. Not only does she seem healthier, it costs about the same. We cook her a combo of meat and buckwheat, sometimes we add in veggies, eggs and beans (no additives, completely natural).
As far as vets go, one amazing thing about owning a pet here is that they make house calls! Not only that, the price is obviously much less. When we had Elphie spayed it only cost about $50. Even though they don’t have all the fancy equipment, she was well cared for and recovered quickly. Vaccinations are cheap, and you get your animal’s international passport stamped. Our vet is fantastic, his name is Artyom and he often works at the dog training facility across from the US Embassy. If you need to contact him please let me know, and I’ll be happy to pass along his info.
There aren’t many rules regarding pets here, but it’s my understanding that the Government just passed a law requiring dog owners to pay some kind of tax (we’ve heard that it amounts to about 5000AMD a year), but as of now we don’t know the details. If we find out, we will give everyone an update.
I want to mention that a lot of people here a wary of dogs, so keep that in mind if you are out walking your friend.
If you have any other thoughts about owning a pet in Armenia, let me know! Here’s a picture of our Elphie!