Living in the Dominican Republic is not like living in the United States, Canada or Europe. We are different, we are tropical and 3rd world and that makes a big difference. We have a large population of feral animals like the mongoose that is our #1 reservoir of rabies and we have a large population of beach and street dogs that are without owners. These dogs are the principal cause of our problems with Distemper, Parvovirus, and Hepatitis. Our rat population here is our reservoir of Leptospirosis.
So you see we just about have it all. In 2010 we had over 550 cases of Rabies in St. Domingo and in 2012 we had 15 cases in the Puerto Plata area. In 2011-2012 we lost over 2000 dogs to distemper. Every year we lose some dogs to Parvo and Hepatitis but have not had an outbreak for years. Finally we have cases every year of Leptospirosis in both humans and dogs.
The good news is that you can prevent this. You just need to make sure your pets are vaccinated. It is very important your puppy gets it full series of at least 2 vaccinations of Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus and Para influenza and at least one rabies vaccination. It is good to repeat yearly the vaccines at least twice more before even considering skipping a year.
In the U.S. there is a new protocol for vaccinations are now every 3 years. In a well-protected population like the States and Canada it is a valid protocol but in areas of endemic infections and large un-protected populations we need to be more conservative and err on the side of security. I would suggest yearly vaccinations until your pet has at least 3 sets of vaccines then consider vaccinating every 2 years.
The only one this does not hold true for is Leptospirosis which is a bactrin vaccine which means a dead bacterial vaccine. This does not give real good immunity and should be repeated yearly especially if we are having and outbreak.
FLEAS, TICKS, TAPEWORMS AND BLOOD PARASITES
In the tropics everything grows well and with no winter to help control the parasites, we have more than the average problem with them.
Fleas are worldwide and we do have our share of them here in our dogs and cats. They are our most common skin disease causing the hair to fall out around the tail head, thighs and around the ears. Your pet will be miserable when the fleas set up housekeeping on them. They will scratch day and night and quickly lose condition. Thankfully there are treatments available but pet shampoos is not one of them. The flea and tick shampoos are very short acting and severely dry out the skin making it easier for the fleas to bite. There are products available at you veterinarian that needs to be given monthly to protect your mascot. Remember flea protection is not a battle but a full scale war that needs to wage constantly. If you stop your flea treatments then the flea builds up resistance and you will need to look for some other treatment. Once you start do not stop or it will get worse.
A secondary problem of fleas is that they transmit tapeworm which is a worm in your dog or cats intestine. It too can be treated but is better to prevent it that has to treat it. If you do have tapeworms your veterinarian can give you a specific dewormer for that. Not all wormers work for tapeworm so check to make sure it works for Dyplidium caninium of D. felis
We also have lots of ticks here because we still have lots of cows, horses and pastures that they can live in. In this country the ticks carry Ehrlichia canis and Anaplasma Pahagocytophilium which are 2 blood diseases similar to Lyme disease, but we do not have Lyme disease here, yet. The good news is they are not transmissible to humans and can be successfully treat 99% of the time. The bad news is they are immuno-suppressive and stop your dog from making blood and platelets without which they will die. As with fleas there are available good medicine to protect your pet and again shampoos is not one of them. Your dog can be diagnosed by blood work and serology and treated with antibiotics. Still your best protection is to prevent the tick from ever biting.
We do have heartworm in country but the incidence is low. Keep your pet on preventative monthly treatments and you won’t need to worry. Again diagnosis can be done by serology and treatment is available.
In general, the medicine we use to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and heartworm works simultaneously, and needs to be used every 2-4 weeks depending on how intense your flea and tick problem is. Stop by and we can explain it all in further detail!