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 common conditions that spread from cat to cat. FeLV can be vaccinated against, however FIV cannot. Prevent FIV by spaying/neutering them (as the most common mode of transmission is bite wounds from fighting over territory). Also keep cats indoors so they do not mix with other potentially infected cats. Parvovirus, Leptospirosis and Hepatitis Vaccinations must be done for dogs. Dogs in doggie day care, should 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), although it is rare to see extreme cases. Prevent this by carrying a bottle of fresh water during beach walks. If you see signs of salt poisoning: vomiting, diarrhoea, incoordination, 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 if you leave your dog in the car. Also avoid long walks and playtimes during the middle of the day, have breaks during walks and always have fresh water on hand. Finding a shady place can also help avoid heatstroke. Symptoms of heat stroke 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. Also asphalt gets extremely hot and sensitive paw pads can burn. Consider using pet sunscreen.
Insect stings are common here. Curious dogs that use their noses to poke around 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 vet as soon as possible.
Spay & Neuter
Spaying (female) and neutering (male) is a must in order to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Cayman. According to the US Humane Society, a single female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years and a single dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in six years.
The Humane Society and CARE are often at bursting point. We should be working towards reducing the number of dogs and cats in Cayman until they all have good homes.
In addition to keeping our animal population under control, there are other benefits. Spaying and neutering is also known to improve your pet’s health, increase its life expectancy, and improve its behaviour. Sterilising reduces your pet’s urge to spray (male cats only), or to roam. This then decreases the risk of it running away and getting injured in fights and contracting diseases from bite wounds, or getting hit by a car. It can also eliminate or reduce the incidence of serious health problems that can be difficult and expensive to treat.
If you adopt a pet from the Humane Society, C.A.R.E. or PAWS they will cover the cost of spaying or neutering, all inoculations, and, if you adopt a dog, its license too.
If you acquire a pet from elsewhere then you can get it sterilized at the Humane Society or one of the Island’s vets. A cat will cost approximately CI$90 to be spayed or CI$50 to be neutered. Depending on the size and weight, a dog can cost between $160-$320 to be spayed or CI$140-$240 to be neutered.
If you are unable to afford these fees then local animal charities, including the Humane Society, CARE and PAWS can offer financial assistance. Otherwise it can be done privately at any Veterinary Practice for at a very reasonable cost.
There is also a charity organisation called Feline Friends, who operate a ‘Trap Neuter Return’ (TNR) programme for homeless cats.
Ticks & Fleas
Ticks and fleas can be a major problem in Cayman. Dogs in particular easily pick up ticks and fleas outside and bring them back into the home where these pests can take over.
Both pests can be controlled with a new product called NexGard which is a tasty beef-flavoured chewable tablet containing an ectoparasiticide which kills fleas and ticks when they bite your pet. This and other flea products are available from any local veterinarian and from Animal House. An alternative product that you can use is Frontline or Frontline Plus which kills adult ticks, fleas, flea eggs and larvae, although regular inspections to ensure your pets are tick-free are still essential.
Pet shampoos, available from local veterinarians, can help with the problem. You can also treat the garden/kennels with pesticide, which may need to be performed several times before control is achieved. If fleas or ticks become established inside your home, then you may need one or two thorough pest control treatments of all floors and upholstery to get the problem under control. This treatment should only be performed by a professional pest control company. Please refer to our Pest Control page for a list of companies.
It is very important that you remember to make preparations before hurricane season for your pets. The incredibly tragic losses from Hurricane Ivan showed us how vulnerable pets are and how completely reliant they are on their owners for their survival. The only two public shelters that accept pets are at John Gray High School and Clifton Hunter High School.
The two public shelters that accept pets are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so do make sure you have a back up plan for yourself and your pet. 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 (in case the ID collar becomes lost) 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 (to comfort your pet) and have proper identification affixed to the outside of the crate. Stock up on at least a month’s worth of food and pet supplies, including medication.
If leaving the Island, you can obtain a travel health certificate from your veterinarian; it can be issued in one day for your pet. However, bear in mind that vets may well get overwhelmed with requests as the storm gets close. Your vet 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. If you leave the Island with your pet without their current rabies travel paperwork, you will be subjected to the government import requirements for pets when returning.
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.
Frustratingly there are no pet insurance policies available on the Island. All pet care expenses have to be paid for by the owner.
Dog Friendly Dining
Refer to the Dog Friendly Restaurants page.