Dowlen Road Veterinary Center

Heartworm Prevention

More than a million pets in the United States have a heartworm infestation. But heartworm disease is PREVENTABLE. Let that sink in, because it is one of the most horrible statistics regarding our furry friends.

In companion animals, heartworm disease is diagnosed mainly in dogs and, less frequently, in cats and ferrets. However, heartworms also live in other wild animal hosts such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. Heartworms are only conveyed through the bite of an infected mosquito; therefore, an infected dog cannot transmit the disease to other pets. It will take these deposited larvae approximately 6 months to mature into adult heartworms. If untreated, these adults will mate and produce progeny, constantly increasing their numbers. Adult heartworms can live for 5 – 7 years in dogs. Thus, each mosquito season can potentially increase the number of worms in an already infected pet. Because infected mosquitoes can come inside, be aware that indoor pets are also at risk for heartworm disease. Also note, Heartworm disease effects an animal’s health and quality of life long after the heartworms are gone. These creatures are merciless in what they do to your pet. As the heartworms move through the body, they cause extensive damage to many vital organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart. They can cause inflammation of the blood vessels and too many of them can cause heart failure, resulting in the pet’s death. 

However…

By giving a relatively inexpensive monthly oral medication, or a shot that last 6 or 12 months, heartworm disease in dogs is preventable. An owner might be tempted to give the dog the chewable pill only during the typical mosquito season, but seriously reconsider that thought… Here in Southeast Texas mosquitoes have no off season!

Micro-climates such as irrigated fields, ponds, and golf courses, can affect the severity and duration of the mosquito season. In addition, because many of these preventatives also include a control for roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms, it really is best to give the medication throughout the year. When initially choosing a method of prevention, discuss it with your veterinarian. They can make recommendations based on your pet’s requirements and your financial situation.

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