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Living in Belize can be both a blessing and a curse to our pets.  While our dogs can enjoy the luxuries of running off-leash and retrieving coconuts from the sea, they are also faced with a variety of health risks rarely seen in the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Keeping a pet healthy here requires vigilance, as well as strict adherence to monthly and yearly preventive protocols.

The most obvious health risk to dogs and cats in Belize are fleas and ticks.  In addition to causing blood loss they carry bacterial diseases such as Ehrlichia, the cause of “Tick Fever”.   There are a variety of products out there to aid us in our constant battle against these parasites, some more effective than others.  For dogs, Preventic collars are helpful, but they are only affective against ticks, not fleas.  They also are most effective when not allowed to get wet.  Frontline is a popular topical product marketed for flea and tick control, and applied monthly.  Unfortunately, resistance to Frontline is growing within flea and tick populations everywhere, especially here in Belize.  You may find that despite applying it religiously every month you are still losing the battle against flea and tick infestation.  My favorite product to date for fleas and ticks in Belize is called Promeris.  It is only for sale to veterinarians, and is applied topically the same as Frontline once a month.  At this time it is the most effective product I have found for repelling and killing fleas and ticks in Belize.  If you are finding Frontline to be ineffective for your dog, I strongly recommend trying it.  The cost for a single dose is between 35 and 40 Belize dollars depending on the size of your dog.  It also has the added benefit of being an effective treatment for demodectic mange, a common genetic form of mange seen in puppies here in San  Pedro.  Do not apply it to cats, however.  It is toxic to them. 

For cats in Belize my favorite product is called Revolution.  It is a topical ointment applied as Frontline is, but it is active against a much wider range of parasites.  When used once a month it will control fleas, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites!  The cost for Revolution is about 30 Belize dollars per dose. 

Along with fleas and ticks, the other major parasitic health risk for pets in Belize is heartworm disease.  Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes, and can infect both dogs and cats.  It is a disease which is easily prevented, but difficult and expensive to treat.  If heartworm infections occur and are left untreated they are invariably fatal.  Heartworm preventatives are most often chewable tablets which must be given monthly to be effective.  The most commonly used preventative is called Heartgard, although I recommend you ask for a generic equivalent.  Generics such as Iverhart Plus or Triheart offer the same protection as Heartgard but for a much lower cost.  These products also contain pyrantel, a dewormer which prevents infection by roundworms and hookworms found in the environment as well.  The cost for generic heartworm preventatives are between 6 and 14 Belize dollars per dose, depending on the size of your dog.

With proper parasite control your pets can live a happy and healthy life here in San Pedro, enjoying all the island has to offer them as well as us.  If you have any questions regarding the health of your pet stop by San Pedro Animal Hospital, in front of Pedro’s Inn, or call 610-DOGS (3647).

Laurie Droke, DVM

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