Why Is Heartworm Protection Important?

Why Is Heartworm Protection Important?


You may have noticed how the news media whir with compelling stories every summer. These include narratives about disease transmission to humans by pesky mosquitoes. It should not come as a surprise, though. These annoying insects are not only a problem for you but they are a severe health risk to your pet too.


Heartworms are not only difficult to treat but they can also be potentially deadly to your beloved dogs and cats. That being so, it is much more effective to prevent the disease altogether. Here’s what you need to know about protecting your pet from heartworm.


What Is Heartworm Disease?


Heartworm disease is a health condition that is caused by a parasitic roundworm known as Dirofilaria immitis. This disease leads to severe organ damage and even death in pets.


The larvae are spread through a mosquito bite, and these parasites mature into adults. They mate and reproduce while living inside your pet. The worms are referred to as heartworms because, during this time, the mature worms infest in an infected animal’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels.


The disease primarily infects dogs and cats. But, it can also affect other animals, such as ferrets, canids, and felids, among others. Heartworm disease has been reported in dogs in all 50 states in the United States. However, it is most common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.


How Can You Prevent Heartworm?


Reduce your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes. This way, you can limit the risk of your pet getting infected with heartworms. Do this by keeping them inside during late afternoon and evening. Although it is impossible to prevent mosquito bites entirely, you can at least spray the yard and get rid of any standing water nearby. It cannot eliminate the threat. But it can help to protect your pet from those annoying insects.


Also, before a preventive treatment plan starts, your pet has to undergo a blood test to check for existing heartworm infection. Unfortunately, preventives do not work if adult worms are already present in your dog’s body. The preventives will not kill mature heartworms, nor will it eliminate the infection. That is why assessing your pet’s current heartworm status is paramount.


Heartworm in cats, on the other hand, are more challenging to detect. Additional testing may be necessary to know for sure that your cat is not infected.


The American Heartworm Society suggests that you perform heartworm tests on your pet every year. This year-round approach is to make sure that your pet does not become infected with heartworm disease afterward. This interval is also to monitor that the appropriate prescription and administration of medication is being done.


There have been recorded cases of pets still developing the disease despite their annual heartworm preventives. So, the best way to protect your furry friend is to test them for the condition regularly.


Heartworm disease is preventable in dogs and cats. The Food and Drug Administration in the US has approved a variety of heartworm preventive formulations. Depending on your pet’s health, lifestyle, and risk factors, your veterinarian can recommend the best preventive plan.


If you want to know more about heartworm and how you can protect your pet from the disease, contact 4 Paws Veterinary Hospital in Duffield, Virginia, today. Call us now at (276) 431-4838 to schedule an appointment.

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Dr. Cortney Jessee