Do you remember the last time you gave your dog or cat a dose of heartworm prevention or flea and tick prevention? It can certainly be difficult to remember to do this important task on time, but it is so crucial for the health and well-being of our pets and us!
Did you know that 1 out of every 58 dogs and 1 out of every 107 cats in Berkeley county was diagnosed with heartworm disease last year alone!
Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes – one bite is all it takes to infect your dog or cat with this life-threatening disease. For all of us who live in the Low Country we know these blood suckers are everywhere.
Once a dog is infected it can take 6 months for that infection to be detectable with standard heartworm testing at your veterinarian. Dogs who are infected can have hundreds of foot-long, adult worms in their heart, causing significant damage to the heart and lungs. This damage starts to occur even before the disease is detectable on standard testing and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Also, treatment itself is not without consequences. A full course of treatment for dogs with heartworm disease in Summerville, SC can cost upwards of $1000 and is not without potential life-threatening side effects. This is why prevention is so important!
Cats with heartworm disease usually only have a few worms in their heart, but they can be very sensitive to heartworms. Cats develop heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD) which can cause sudden and severe respiratory distress and even death.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for cats with heartworm disease, so prevention is the best and only answer.
Just remember that mosquitoes come in our homes, so even strictly indoor cats are susceptible to heartworm disease and should be on year-round prevention.
Most heartworm preventions not only prevent heartworm disease but also help control intestinal parasites otherwise known as worms! Intestinal parasites not only cause our pets health issues – such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and poor hair coat to name a few – but they can also be contagious to humans. Children who play outside and do not always keep the best hygiene practices can be particularly susceptible. Hookworms can get under the skin of humans and cause a very itchy rash known as cutaneous larval migrans. Roundworms can affect the liver, lungs, nervous system and even the eye causing blindness in humans. Most heartworm preventions given to our pets monthly can help control intestinal parasites and therefore greatly decrease the risk of parasitism in us and our children.
Finally, I will touch on flea and tick prevention. Fleas are a definite nuisance and can be very difficult to get rid of once an infestation takes place in our homes. Therefore, at Cane Bay Veterinary Clinic we recommend monthly prevention for both dogs and cats. Fleas can also carry some life-threatening diseases for our pets and cause anemia severe enough to warrant a blood transfusion. Ticks can also carry life-threatening diseases and infect our pets with diseases such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and anaplasmosis. Year-round flea and tick prevention is important for all dogs and cats to prevent life-threatening illness, and prevent you from spending lots of money with exterminators getting these nasty pests out of your home after an infestation takes place.
If your pet is not currently on prevention, talk to Dr. Hill or Dr. Turick or our Cane Bay team today, to get them on prevention and ward off many health concerns for you and your pet!