If you are not familiar with heartworm disease – it’s a parasite transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Adult worms develop in the heart, cause heart failure and eventually death. Crazy thing…it can be prevented.
With record snow fall in the Sierras this winter, mosquitoes will be flourishing more now than drier years in the past. Spring is the perfect time to start preventatives for heartworm disease!
Heartworm larvae live in infected mosquitoes and are transmitted when they bite your dog or cat. The larvae develop into adults that gather in the heart. Once adult worms are present, without treatment prognosis is death.
The best way to prevent heartworm disease is keeping your pet on a preventative year round. Infected mosquitoes in the Lake Tahoe Area, have even been found at the Lake level as late as November. Yes November! So, skipping winter months is no longer a viable option to fight this often fatal disease.
Performing a simple blood test at your veterinarian’s hospital can test for the disease in as little as 10 minutes. Negative results mean you can start the preventative. It’s as easy as giving a tasty beef chew once a month. Positive results are another story of their own. Treatment is necessary to save your pet and risks involved can be fatal as well.
As an active outdoor enthusiast, camping and hiking with my dogs is a must. My dogs are protected by Heartgard all year, since mosquitoes are unavoidable. Although there are products like k9 Advantix II that repel mosquitoes, there’s no guarantee. And…mosquitoes not biting your dog are biting you. Cases of heartworm have been reported in humans as well. West Nile Virus is another nasty disease spread by mosquitoes.
- Get your dog tested for Heartworm disease annually.
- If, you skip or miss a dose, be sure to re-test in 6 months.
- Keep your dog on a Heartworm preventative all year.
- Symptoms, though not always seen, may include:
- A mild persistent cough, lethargy, exercise intolerance, weight-loss, and loss of appetite.
The fact is, if there’s even a chance for infection and there’s a preventative…It’s in your power to ensure you pets’ well being.
Spring is here so start prevention now!