Q: Our family is headed to Rocky Point with our dog. Are there any pet health risks I should be aware of when traveling to Mexico?
A: Parasites and infectious diseases are the biggest risks associated with travel to Mexico. With proper preparation, risks can be minimized and taking dogs to Rocky Point can be both fun and safe.
Internal and external parasites are more common in Rocky Point and other parts of Mexico because preventive health care isn’t widespread and there are large numbers of stray “street dogs” in many areas. Most parasites love warm, humid conditions, too.
Fleas, ticks, and the mites that cause Scabies (Sarcoptic or red mange) are easily transmitted from dog to dog. The eggs of intestinal worms are found in dog waste and soil. Eggs can be ingested, and the larvae of some worms can penetrate your dog’s skin before migrating through the body into the intestinal tract.
What’s really gross is that YOU can get many of these parasites, too. Fleas, ticks, and scabies mites aren’t too choosy about who they bite, and roundworms and hookworms can cause blindness and other severe illness in people.
Infectious diseases are also more common in areas where good preventive care is the exception, rather than the rule. The spread of these diseases doesn’t always require direct contact with an infected animal, either. While distemper and Bordetellosis (kennel cough) require close contact with infected dogs, parvovirus can survive in contaminated soil for months. Leptospirosis is transmitted when dogs drink water contaminated by the urine of infected dogs or livestock, and rabies is spread by the bite of an infected animal.
Both Leptospirosis and rabies can infect people, too. So it’s important to make sure your pets are protected before you travel.
The up side of all this is that most parasites and infectious diseases can be prevented.
So, how can you protect your pets—and yourself—when you travel to Rocky Point or other parts of Mexico? Follow these easy steps:
- Make sure your pet has a preventive care exam at least once a year (twice a year is best for most pets)
- Let your vet know if you travel with your pet so they recommend the most appropriate vaccines for your pets lifestyle
- Test for heartworm annually
- Keep your pet on heartworm prevention year-round
- Screen for intestinal parasites at least once a year
- Perform broad-spectrum deworming as recommended by your veterinarian
- Ask your vet about the safest way to prevent fleas and ticks during travel
Finally, before you travel to Mexico, make sure you have an official health certificate and other paperwork. Travel safely and tener unas excelentes vacaciones!