Dangerous Parasitic Diseases in Charleston, SC

Hearworms in Dogs & Cats in Charleston, SC: Dog scratching itself

External parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes thrive in Charleston’s warm, humid climate. They’re active all year long due to the fact that our area does not go through a hard freeze long enough to disrupt their life cycles. Heartworms, intestinal worms, and protozoal parasites are also extremely common.

Parasites pose several risks to your pet, especially since many of them can transmit dangerous and even deadly diseases. Some of these parasites can also be passed from your pet to you, or to other members of your family.

Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats in Charleston, SC: Cat scratching itself

Heartworms in Dogs & Cats

These blood-borne parasites are carried in their larval form by the mosquito. Once the mosquito bites your cat or dog, the larvae are transmitted into their bloodstream, developing over time into adult worms that live in the heart. Heartworm is a fatal disease if left untreated and unfortunately, there is no existing treatment for heartworm disease in cats.

Lyme Disease & Ehrlichiosis in Dogs & Cats

Lyme and Ehrlichiosis diseases are tick-borne and can cause various symptoms including fever, loss of appetite, limb swelling, and neurological issues.

Tick Paralysis in Dogs & Cats

A single tick bite can cause partial to complete paralysis in both animals and humans.


Spread by fleas, Bartonella is the bacteria that causes “cat scratch fever” in humans. It also causes a variety of symptoms in cats, from fever to lethargy to loss of appetite. Some cats do not show symptoms of the disease at all, but they can still pass it on to humans.


This flea-borne illness infects the red blood cells and causes both fever and anemia in cats.


Dogs and cats can become infected by tapeworms by ingesting infected fleas. Tapeworm segments resemble grains of rice and can be found around the pet’s rectum or in their stool.

Hookworms, Roundworms, and Whipworms

All of these intestinal parasites can be found in an infected dog’s stool and in contaminated soil, and can also be passed to puppies by their mother. Once infected, pets may experience severe diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and vomiting. Hookworms and roundworms can also be transmitted to people, especially children.

Flea Allergic Dermatitis

While not life-threatening, flea allergic dermatitis is extremely uncomfortable for dogs and cats. Flea-allergic pets can experience severe itching and skin irritation for several weeks from just a single flea bite.

Why Prevention is Preferable to Treatment

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Treating parasitic diseases, especially heartworm disease in dogs, is expensive and time-consuming. It can also cause needless stress for your pet. Furthermore, effects of the disease cannot always be reversed with treatment. This makes prevention the best option for keeping your pet healthy and parasite-free!

Giving your dog or cat their heartworm preventatives and flea/tick control products year-round is vital to preventing the spread of parasites to other pets and also humans. There are many affordable products available that make it easier than ever to prevent parasites. Heartworm preventatives can even protect pets against various intestinal worms. At West Ashley Veterinary Clinic, we carry the safest and most effective parasite preventatives for dogs and cats, and we’ll help you choose the best options based on your pet’s lifestyle and medical history.

Give us a call today at (843) 571-7095 for more information.