Just one mosquito bite can be potentially deadly for your dog or cat, because mosquitos carry the parasite that causes heartworm disease. In the past, heartworm was thought to be a summertime threat to dogs in the southern United States. Now the disease is known to be a serious risk to both dogs and cats, in all 50 states, and at any time of the year. These lethal parasites can grow up to one foot in length and live in your pet’s heart for years, restricting blood flow to the other organs.
The good news is that treatment is possible and prevention of heartworm disease is both easy and more convenient.
Pass the Test First
A simple blood test reveals heartworms in your pet’s system. If they are detected, the next step is usually to administer medication to kill the worms. In some cases, surgery to remove adult heartworms must be performed.
Then, Prevent the Parasite
If your pet gets a clean bill of health, that’s great. But it’s important that you prevent any possible infestation. One way to do this is to treat your pet every month with a tablet, or a topical liquid medication that is applied between the animal’s shoulder blades and enters the bloodstream through the skin. These monthly preventatives can provide protection against not only heartworm, but also such other parasites as roundworms, hookworms, fleas, ear mites and ticks. Although these medications are effective when administered correctly, missing even one monthly treatment can leave your pet vulnerable to attack. With many different options available, talk with your vet about which prevention will work best for you. Be vigilant about protecting your pet – it’ll do his heart good.