If you are a pet owner, read on for tips on how to get your pet spayed/neutered, how to take care of your pet in the Cayman Islands, as well as advice for what to do in the event of a hurricane.
Taking care of your pet on an island can be a bit different from everyday pet care on the mainland - read on for our recommendations and handy tips.
Heartworm disease, a deadly condition, is endemic in Cayman. It is caused by a blood parasite that is transmitted by mosquito bites and infects both dogs and cats. Thus, all dogs and cats should be on a monthly heartworm preventative treatment.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are viral conditions that spread from cat to cat. FeLV can be vaccinated against, however FIV cannot. Reduce the risk of FIV by spaying/neutering them, or better yet, keeping them indoors. Dogs should be vaccinated against Distemper, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Hepatitis and Leptospirosis. Dogs attending a daycare must also be vaccinated against Kennel Cough.
Salt Water can be toxic if your dog drinks a large quantity of it and can result in hypernatremia (an elevated sodium level). Prevent this by carrying a bottle of fresh water during beach walks. If you see signs of salt poisoning: vomiting, diarrhoea, in-coordination, severe depression and/or seizures, take your dog to a veterinarian. After swimming, rinse salt water and chlorine off. If you take your dog on a boat, put a flotation device on them. Avoid letting dogs swim in swampy and canal water as they risk contracting Pythiosis – a rare but often deadly disease.
Heatstroke can occur fast if you leave your pet in the car. Avoid long walks during the middle of the day, have breaks during walks and always have fresh water on hand. Be aware that the asphalt gets extremely hot and sensitive paw pads can burn. Symptoms of heatstroke include heavy panting, vomiting and breathing difficulties. If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, take the animal to a vet immediately as it could be fatal. You may also consider using pet sunscreen.
Insect stings are common here. Curious dogs can be stung by scorpions, bees and other insects. If you notice any swelling around your dog’s face, or other parts of its body, take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Spay & Neuter
Spaying (female) and neutering (male) pets is strongly advised. The primary reason is to keep the animal population under control by reducing the number of stray, unwanted and unhomed animals in Cayman. In addition, spaying and neutering will improve your pet’s health, increase life expectancy, and improve behaviour. Sterilising reduces your pet’s urge to spray (male cats), and to roam – which decreases the risk of it running away, getting injured in fights and contracting diseases.
If you adopt a pet from the Humane Society, C.A.R.E., One Dog At a Time or PAWS Cayman, they will cover the cost of spaying or neutering and all inoculations. If you acquire a pet from elsewhere, but need financial assistance, the Humane Society or C.A.R.E. may assist, otherwise it can be done privately at any Veterinary Practice for a very reasonable cost.
There is also a charity organisation called Feline Friends, who operate a ‘Trap Neuter Return’ programme for homeless cats. The organisation will humanely trap the cats, take them to the veterinarian where they will be spayed or neutered, de-wormed and ear-notched (indicating that they have been sterilised). The cats will be released again at the same location. This is a proven method of controlling the population of homeless cats while ensuring they receive a better quality of life. If you notice a colony of homeless cats near you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and they will come out to assist. Donations to help their cause are always welcome.
Ticks & Fleas
Ticks and fleas can also be a major problem for your pet. Both pests can be controlled in dogs with NexGuard, a chewable monthly tablet containing an ectoparasiticide which kills fleas and ticks when they bite your pet.
An alternative product for dogs and cats is monthly topical Frontline Plus which kills adult ticks, fleas, flea eggs and larvae. Stronghold/Revolution is also available and is convenient for outdoor cats as it also prevents Heartworm disease. Regular inspections to ensure your pets are tick-free are essential. Animals easily pick up ticks and fleas outside and bring them back into the home where these pests can reproduce. If your home becomes infested with fleas or ticks, you may need to perform one or two thorough pest control treatments. This treatment should only be performed by a professional pest control company. You should also treat the garden/kennels. Please refer to our Pest Control page for a list of companies.
It is important to make preparations for your pets before hurricane season. During a hurricane, public pet-friendly shelters are setup at John Gray High School and Clifton Hunter High School. Space allocation is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it is important to have a backup plan for yourself and your pet. Remember, if it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pet. Never leave pets outside. You can alternatively call one of the kennels or pet sitters. You could also ask at your workplace to see if they allow pets.
At John Gray High School’s shelter there are 30 spaces for dogs and 60 for cats. At Clifton Hunter there are 15 dog spaces and 25 cat spaces. The area for pet sheltering is in the locker rooms of the schools and is made as safe as possible for your pet.
Prepare an emergency accommodation plan and make inquiries in advance, to avoid last minute stress. Remember, if it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pet. Never leave pets outside. If you decide to evacuate your family to a shelter that does not accept pets, make alternative arrangements for your pets. We recommend you call one of the kennels or pet sitters. If you are sheltering at your work place, you should check to see if they allow pets.
Before the storm hits, make sure your pet has a current ID tag, microchip, and that you have the following in airtight plastic bags: current photos for identification (in case you are separated), medical record copies, medications and food. A pet carrier or crate should be outfitted with newspapers, blankets, cat litter, a water bowl or water dripping device, a favourite toy and have proper identification affixed to the outside of the crate. Stock up on at least a month’s worth of food, pet supplies and medication.
If you are leaving the Island with your pet, you will need to obtain a travel health certificate from your veterinarian, which can be issued in one day. Your veterinarian will require the following documents for a health certificate: your address, your destination address, vaccine history, rabies vaccine certificates and copies of your pet’s rabies titre blood tests.
After obtaining your completed health certificate from your vet, hand-deliver it to the DOA to have your exit permit issued. You cannot travel on a veterinary health certificate alone.
If your home is a safe refuge during a storm, you may want to foster an animal from the Humane Society. They are always looking for alternative shelters during hurricane season.
Unfortunately, there are no pet insurance policies available on the Island. All pet care expenses have to be paid for by the owner.