COLUMBIA, S.C. – The historic flooding brought a bloom of mosquitoes to South Carolina, putting your pet at a higher risk of getting heartworms.
Dr. Wendy King of Spears Creek Veterinary Clinic says standing water from the flooding is a perfect habitat for mosquitoes, attracting more than the state normally has this time of the year.
They’re dangerous to your furry member of the family because they can spread heartworms rapidly. When the mosquito bites an animal infected with heart worms, it sucks in baby worms that are in that animals blood stream. Then when that mosquito bites another dog or cat, the larvae are injected into the animals skin.
Signs of heartworm disease in dogs may include persistent cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, it can lead to heart failure.
Signs of heartworm disease in cats include coughing, vomiting, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Fainting or seizures happen occasionally, and in some cases, the first sign is sudden collapse or sudden death.
Dr. King urges pet owners to have their pet treated for heartworms once a month and no less. She said all dogs and cats have the heartworm larvae in them, but the constant treatment kills the larvae, keeping them from growing into adult heartworms. She said this is important to do year round in South Carolina, because even in January, mosquitoes are feeding on pets.
Dr. King says the mosquito has to fly around for at least two weeks after injesting the baby worms, before biting another animal, to infect it with heartworms.
For more information about heartworms in dogs and cats, you can visit www.HeartwormSociety.org.