14 Apr Spring brings pests – reminders for pet owners!
With everything going on in the world, it can be easy to overlook the emergence of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes and the impact they can have on our pets. April is designated as Heartworm Awareness Month as a reminder to have dogs (and cats) tested and put on monthly preventives to protect them from this easily preventable, but potentially deadly threat.
Especially the southeastern United States, heartworms are quite common due to our long mosquito season. Dogs are the definitive host for heartworms, though infections in cats sometimes happen.
Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, which pick up the immature stages from an infected dog, and then pass them on to a different dog when they move on for another blood meal. The parasite takes 6 months to mature in the dog, producing larvae which circulate in the bloodstream. The adult parasites stay in the dog’s heart, where they cause disease.
Heartworm infection can cause major health issues such as severe lung disease and heart failure. Heartworm disease is complicated and potentially deadly. The best approach is prevention.
Heartworms can be prevented with monthly prescription medication or a veterinarian-administered injection twice a year. Heartworm prevention is much less expensive and safer for your dog than treatment once they are infected.
Contact your veterinarian for advice on testing and how to protect your dog from the dangers of heartworm infection. To find a veterinarian in your area, visit www.tvmanet.com and click on the “find-a-vet” tool.
Visit the American Heartworm Society to learn more about heartworm prevention at www.heartwormsociety.org.