• Recent rains increase dangers for pets

    By: Sarah Rosario


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Local veterinarians say because of the recent downpours, they expect to see an increase in heartworm cases.

    Eyewitness News found out it's one of several problems taking a toll on many pets after the recent rain. Vets say it’s one of the easiest things to prevent and treat but if it isn’t treated, heartworm disease can end up killing your pets.

    "The more standing water you have, the more mosquitoes, and the more likely we're going to see heartworms," said Dr. Tom Watson.

    Watson has been a veterinarian with Carolinas Veterinary Medical Hospital for more than 20 years. He said the average clinic sees about 50 to 100 cases per year. This summer, he expects that number to increase.

    Since the rain began, he said he's already seen several dogs with heartworms. If they go untreated, the dogs end up dying of congestive heart failure.

    Watson said there is a bit of confusion between heartworm prevention and treatment. Prevention can cost as little as $7 a month; treatment can cost upward of $1,000.

    Another danger that has increased from the rain is something that can hurt humans. Leptospirosis is often found in water that animals have urinated in. It's one of the main bacteria worldwide transferred from animals to humans, and it’s a problem not often tested for.

    "You have to specifically look for lepto, and the tricky part is that it mimics a lot of other things. The animal urinates over here, and the rain washes it over here in this area, that's how it can spread," said Watson.

    Watson said he hasn’t seen any cases recently, but he is vaccinating all dogs that come to his office for a yearly appointment.

    Symptoms of leptospirosis are hard to pinpoint but include ones similar to mushroom poisoning. They include nausea, abdominal cramps, staggering, and liver and kidney failure -- both of which can lead to death.

    Mushroom poisoning is also a problem for pets right now. The recent downpours have caused mushrooms to pop up everywhere. The problem is that dogs don't know the difference between poisonous and nonpoisonous ones.

    "If you tell me your pet has ingested mushrooms, I'm going to assume it’s one of the toxic ones and induce vomiting," said Watson.

    Watson said a simple blood test can detect all these illnesses. As a preventative measure, he said make sure you keep your pets away from standing water.

    For more information about how to treat your pet, click here.

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