April is Heartworm Awareness Month. Here at My Zoo, we practice the most up to date recommendations for keeping your pet healthy and safe from these terrible parasites! In honor of Heartworm Awareness Month, here are the basics of heartworms.
Who can get heart worms?
Among our pets, heartworms are most common in dogs. However, cats are not immune! In both species, heartworms cause damage to the heart and lungs and cause your pets to be very sick. The longer the worms stay in your pet, the more damage can be done.
What can be done to protect my pet?
Heartworm preventatives are very effective. There are multiple varieties available and we can help you decide what is right for your pet’s lifestyle. Generally, there are monthly medications that can be applied topically (on the skin) or given as a treat depending on the medication. There is also an injection we can administer here in the clinic to protect dogs from heartworms for 6 months. Our team can help you pick the right one!
Do I need to test my dog every year even though I use heartworm prevention?
This is an excellent question. Heartworm prevention is very effective, however if you are late or forget a month, your pet can be at risk! Some dogs may even vomit the pill outside or rub off the skin treatment while you are not looking. Studies show the longer those worms are in the body, the more severe the damage is to your pet’s heart. Therefore, we perform yearly testing for dogs to make sure they live happy, healthy, and long lives!
Where do heartworms come from?
Heartworms are carried by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites your dog (or cat), the worms crawl out of the mosquito and enter your dog. The baby worm then travels in the blood to heart, where it matures and starts reproducing. The baby worms then travel to the small blood vessels near the skin’s surface to await a mosquito. The mosquito then carries the baby to the next host.
Do I have to give prevention year round?
Yes! That is what is best for your pet! I wouldn’t bet my pet’s health on a Missouri winter! This last winter is a perfect example of why I don’t bet on a cold enough winter. 1 mosquito is all it takes.
If you have more questions, feel free to give us a call at 573-875-3647.