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The definitive guide to living and working in the Cayman Islands
Jul 29, 2014 

Finding and Looking After a Pet

Last updated: 28th August 2013

Having a pet really makes a house feel like a home and there are plenty of pets available for adoption in the Cayman Islands, from rescue centres and elsewhere. If you are renting your home, be sure to get permission from your landlord as many places do not allow pets or may require a hefty pet deposit. 

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. 

Finding a Pet
The first place to look for a pet in Cayman is the Humane Society on North Sound Road. At any given time they have a large variety of dogs, cats and newborn animals that need loving homes. They are often also happy for you to foster a dog or cat, even for a sleepover or a long weekend where they will lend you a pet carrier, utensils, blankets, food, toys and treats. If you give them notice they will bathe the dog so the he/she smells nice when you pick it up. They are always open to volunteers who can walk the dogs in the vicinity of the shelter or who wish to take them to the beach for a fun outing. It is a great activity for children and they will recommend the right animal for the age and size of your child, so everybody enjoys the walk. To help raise funds for the Society, which is a non-for-profit organisation, you may volunteer to work in the Claws It thrift shop or the Book Loft book store. They can be easily reached on (345) 949 1461 or (345) 938 1461, by email: info@caymanhumanesociety.com or via the web on www.caymanhumanesociety.com.

Cayman Animal Rescue Enthusiasts (CARE) is another animal rescue organisation and they too have a number of dogs and cats for adoption. They often put on community dog washes which are great fun. Local vets can also point you in the right direction for finding a purebred animal. Visit www.caymancare.ky.

Alternatively, Veronique Bise from CustomERrands can import a pure breed pedigree puppy or kitten for you. All animals come from registered and reputable breeders in the UK, in compliance with Cayman Islands pet importation laws. Call her on (345) 926 5599 or email: errands@customerrands.ky.

Smaller animals like hamsters, rabbits, birds and fish can be found at the following pet vendors:

Animal House
North Sound Road, Tel: (345) 943 7387
Countryside Shopping Village, Tel: (345) 945 7387
Animal House sells a large variety of fresh and salt water fish, as well as birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils and rabbits. They also sell fish tanks, pet food and pet accessories. [Editor's note: Their location in the Industrial Park is a fun place to take small children. They will enjoy looking at the animals, colourful parrots and seeing the huge variety of fish.] Their Countryside location specialises in equestrian products.

Nemhard's Pets
The Village, Dr. Roys Drive, George Town
Tel: (345) 949 7908
Sells tropical fish, supplies for aquariums, pet supplies, small animals and birds.

Petique
Pasadora Place, Smith Road
Tel: (345) 949 7296
Sells tropical aquariums, fish, tanks, accessories plus food for gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs.

Looking After Your Pet
Heartworm disease is a deadly condition transmitted by mosquitoes and affects both dogs and cats in Cayman. As soon as they arrive on Island (and once a month after that) all dogs and cats should be given a chewy tablet for heartworm prevention.

Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are spread from cat to cat and are very common amongst the stray population. FeLV can be vaccinated against, however FIV cannot. The best way to prevent your cat from contracting FIV is to spay/neuter them (as the most common mode of transmission is bite wounds from fighting over territory) and keeping them indoors so they do not mix with other potentially infected cats.

All dogs on the island should be vaccinated against Parvovirus, Leptospirosis and Hepatitis. Dogs that regularly mix with other dogs, such as those in doggie day care, should also be vaccinated against Kennel Cough.

Living on a Caribbean island, you will most certainly be taking your dog to the beach and must keep in mind that salt water is poisonous. As dogs don't realise how dangerous salt water can be, they often drink freely when playing and splashing around. This can result in hypernatremia (an elevated sodium level), although it is rare to see extreme cases. You can help prevent this by carrying a bottle of fresh water and offering it several times during the beach walk. Signs of salt poisoning are vomiting, diarrhoea, incoordination (walking drunk), severe depression and/or seizures. These symptoms are secondary to cerebral edema, or brain swelling, which needs to be treated very carefully by your veterinarian. You should also ensure you wash salt water and chlorine off the dog's fur when you return home.

Also remember that not all dogs are good swimmers so they should not be left unsupervised in the water. If you take your dog on a boat then you should put a flotation device on them.

You will also need to ensure your dog doesn't get heatstroke, which is quite common and can be deadly. Never leave your dog in the car, avoid long walks and playtimes during the middle of the day, have breaks during walks and always have water to hand. 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.

You should also be mindful that the ground, especially asphalt, gets extremely hot and sensitive paw pads can burn. Avoid shaving your animals as their hair protects them from sunburn and only use sunscreen that is specifically for use on animals.

Insect stings are also common on-Island. 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 and 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, spaying and neutering is known to improve your pet's health, increase its life expectancy, and improve its behaviour. Sterilizing reduces your pet's urge to spray (males only), to roam - which decreases the risk of it running away, 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 several serious health problems like cancer that can be difficult and expensive to treat.

If you adopt a pet from the Humane Society, CARE or PAWS they will cover the cost of spaying or neutering, all inoculations, and, if you adopt a dog, its licence 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 around $90 to be spayed or $50 to be neutered. Depending on the size and weight of the animal, a dog can cost between $160-$320 to be spayed or $140-$240 to be neutered. If you are unable to afford these fees then local animal charities, the Humane Society (Tel: (345) 938 1461), CARE (Tel: (345) 938 2273), and PAWS (Tel: (345) 916 3957), can offer financial assistance.

There is also a not-for-profit organisation called Feline Friends, who operate a 'Trap Neuter Return' (TNR) programme. This is a proven method of controlling the resident feral cat population (who incidentally, are great in keeping the rodent population down!) while ensuring they receive a better quality of life. If you notice a colony of feral cats near you, please contact them at felinefriendscayman@gmail.com and they will come out and investigate the group at no charge. Donations to assist in their cause are however, always welcome.

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, not only causing great distress to the pet but also to the homeowner.

Fleas are easily controlled with a product such as Frontline that is applied on the animal's coat on a regular basis. As pets are constantly exposed to re-infestation it may mean monthly treatments. This and other flea products are available from any local veterinarian and from Animal House. If fleas become established in the house then at least one or two thorough treatments of all floors, upholstery and possibly the garden will be required to get the problem under control. This treatment should only be performed by a professional pest control company, and everybody, including the pets, will have to leave the property for a number of hours.

Ticks on the other hand are much harder to deal with and tend to be a problem only with dogs. Ticks are picked up from other dogs and vegetation and can easily become established in the garden and any area where your pet spends time. Regular inspections for ticks on your pet to ensure that they are tick free are essential. Pet shampoos, available from local veterinarians, can help with the problem but the only real control method is to treat the garden/kennels with pesticide which may need to be performed several times before control is achieved. If the infestation makes it inside your home, then your property will need to be treated several times too. Always seek professional advice in the treatment of ticks from a pest control company. Please refer to the Running Your Home page for a list of pest control companies.

Pet Insurance
Frustratingly there are no pet insurance policies available on the Island. All pet care expenses have to be paid for by the owner.

Hurricanes & Pets
It is very important that you remember to make preparations before hurricane season for all members of your family, including 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. Public shelters do not accept pets for both health and safety reasons. Prepare an emergency accommodation plan and make inquiries in advance, to avoid last minute stress for you and your pet. Remember, if it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pet and you should never leave pets outside, always bring them indoors. If you decide to evacuate your family to a shelter, alternative arrangements need to be made for your pets. We recommend Elizabeth Walker (Tel: (345) 925 6719) who can provide shelter facilities for small dogs.

If you are sheltering at your place of work, it may be worthwhile checking to see if they will allow your pets to shelter there with you. Most importantly, you should never leave your pets tied up outside or left to fend for themselves in your evacuated home, as they cannot survive on their own. Wind, flying debris and flood water killed innumerable pets during Ivan.

Before the storm make sure your pet has a current ID tag, microchip (in case the ID collar becomes lost) and that you have current photos for identification (in case you are separated), medical record copies, medications and food, all in airtight plastic bags. A pet carrier or crate should be outfitted with newspapers, blankets, cat/dog 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 supplies, cat litter, newspapers and medications before the storm and prepare a first aid kit. Remember, you can never be too prepared for a hurricane!

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 pet owners requesting health certificates as the storm gets closer to us. Your vet will require the following documents for a health certificate: your address here, your destination address, vaccine history, rabies vaccine certificates and copies of your pet's rabies titre blood tests. Remember, 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 in Lower Valley to have your exit permit issued. You cannot travel on a veterinary health certificate alone. 

If you consider your home a safe refuge during a storm, you may want to foster an animal from the Humane Society. They are often in desperate need of alternative shelters during hurricane season.

Dog-Friendly Dining
Refer to the Food & Drink page for information on dog friendly restaurants.

Copyright 2014 The Resident Magazine 2014. All rights reserved.
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