Pet Parasite Prevention in Charleston

You do a lot to keep your pet safe from both internal and external threats. Parasites fall into both categories and unfortunately, they can be found just about everywhere. Charleston’s mild climate creates an inviting environment for mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and other pests that thrive all year round.

In addition to being an annoyance, parasites can also spread diseases to both pets and people. Therefore, keeping parasites and the diseases they carry at bay is essential to the health of your pet (and the rest of your family).

Dangerous Parasitic Diseases

Diseases that can be dangerous for dogs and cats include:

  • Heartworm disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Giardiasis
  • Hookworm and whipworm infection (can cause internal blood loss and weight loss over time)

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes carrying roundworm larvae. When the mosquito bites its host, the larvae enter the host’s bloodstream where they will, over time, mature into adult heartworms. Without timely treatment, these heartworms will continue to multiply, taking root in the major blood vessels and arteries leading to the heart and lungs. This disrupts blood flow, forcing the heart to overexert itself. In a worst-case scenario, heartworm disease can be fatal.

Symptoms of this disease include labored breathing, coughing, and weakness.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is spread by ticks carrying disease-causing bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. When this bacteria is passed on to a host, it may take several months to cause any clinical symptoms, which include swelling of the joints, lameness, lethargy, and fever. Both animals and humans can become infected with Lyme disease.


Another tick-borne disease, ehrlichiosis, is primarily spread via brown dog ticks. Ehrlichiosis can cause fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, and occasional lameness.


Giardiasis is caused by Giardia, a single-celled parasite often found in bodies of water or other areas that may have been contaminated with animal feces. Giardia lives in the intestine and can, therefore, cause diarrhea. If an animal has giardiasis for a prolonged amount of time, it can even cause death. Fortunately, this disease is not as common, but it’s still important to make sure your pet has clean drinking water and isn’t coming into contact with their or another animal’s feces.

Why Prevention is Preferable to Treatment

Treating parasitic diseases, especially heartworm disease, can be very expensive and time-consuming. It can also cause unneeded stress for your pet, and may not be enough to fully reverse the disease’s effects. That’s why prevention is the best option for keeping your pet healthy. West Ashley Veterinary Clinic carries the safest and best parasite preventives for dogs and cats, and we can help you choose the right options for your pet’s needs.

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