For those who have recently moved here from up North or out West, where the pests are seasonal or non-existent, let me welcome you to the South. Mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are year-round nuisances in South Carolina. If we are lucky, a hard freeze for at least 5 days in a row will decimate the flea population. Without the hard freeze, the existing fleas will multiply at a significantly greater rate. So, therefore, you must keep applying the monthly preventives all year long. Letting cats out into the environment is practically a guarantee they will bring fleas home with them.
Heartworms too are a year-round problem in South Carolina. Monthly preventives, although not exactly cheap, are worth the investment when compared to the alternatives. For example, the treatment for heartworms is three monthly shots administered into the dog’s spine, which are extremely painful to the dog, and you keeping Fido quiet during the three months, as too much excitement or strenuous exercise can still put his or her life at risk. The other alternative is even more permanent.
Understanding heartworms and the heartworm cycle can be deceptive and confusing. Heartworms are transmitted, usually to dogs and only rarely to cats, by mosquitoes’ saliva when they bite the animal. The microfilariae or heartworm eggs gradually flow through the body of the new host into the bloodstream. After they take up residence in the heart, hatch and mature, the adult heartworms will reproduce. Those new eggs or microfilariae flow through the bloodstream. At that stage, five months after the mosquito bite, we can see the eggs in a microscope slide of a blood sample. So, keeping your dogs on monthly heartworm preventive can save their lives and, ultimately your wallet.
Other concerns here in the south are deer ticks, rabies, protozoans and zoonotic diseases. Check with your veterinarian first, but take the necessary steps to ensure your best friend’s health.
Jasper Animal Rescue Mission is a 501c- 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the stray and neglected dogs and cats of Jasper County. 1352 Carters Mill Road, Ridgeland, SC 843.726.7799