South Carolina is a beautiful state with a temperate climate. We are truly fortunate to live in this part of the world. Unfortunately, many of the things that make this state a wonderful place to live also make it a perfect environment for many parasites which can harm our pets.
Heartworms are a mosquito-borne parasite and are endemic to South Carolina. They are primarily a parasite of dogs, but cats are affected too. Because the worms live in the blood vessels in the lungs, they can cause great harm. In the early stages, infection may not have any symptoms, but eventually symptoms may include coughing, trouble breathing, abdominal distention, and death. Cats are especially sensitive to heartworms. Even one worm can be lethal in a cat, and often the first symptom is sudden death. All cats and dogs should be on a monthly heartworm preventative.
For more information on heartworm disease in your pets, please visit the American Heartworm Society.
Intestinal parasites are also extremely common. They can cause harm not only to our pets, but pose a health risk to human beings as well. Most are transmitted by simple fecal – oral contamination, but some have a more complex life cycle. All puppies and kittens should be dewormed by a knowledgable veterinarian in order to protect the whole family. All cats and dogs should be on a monthly preventative to help protect against intestinal parasites. Fortunately, we can protect against heartworms and a number of intestinal parasites with a single product.
Fleas and Ticks are another cause of disease and annoyance for our pets. Fleas are ubiquitous in South Carolina. Ticks are also common but are in more localized pockets. In addition to physical discomfort, these parasites spread diseases such as Ehrlichia, Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Mycoplasma felis.
All Pets should be screened for parasites at their annual examination. At a minimum, dogs and cats should have an intestinal parasite exam on a stool sample. Dogs should have a blood test to screen for heartworms. Of course we always visually examine pets for signs of external parasites. A great idea is to take advantage of our wellness testing program. For a minor increase in cost, these wellness profiles include the required parasite testing in addition to an abundance of additional information.