Mosquito and tick season is especially bad in our area this year! The higher number of mosquitoes means a higher risk of heartworm disease for your dogs as well as cats. Plus, fleas and ticks can not only be painful, but also deadly. Fortunately, protecting your pets and family from the dangers of fleas, ticks, and mosquitos is simple.
Heartworm disease is transferred from infected animals to non-infected dogs or cats by mosquito bites. Animals can only be infected if they are bitten by an infected mosquito. Dogs are the most common host for this disease, but veterinarians are now recognizing that cats are becoming infected also. The treatment approach is different between cats and dogs. Animals that spend a substantial amount of time outdoors have an increased risk of the disease.
Once bitten, it takes about 7 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms in dogs. In the early stages, signs of the disease such as tiring easily, difficult or rapid breathing, or coughing may not be recognized. In more advanced cases, abnormal lung sounds, weight loss, and abdominal distension may be present. It is very important to make sure your dog is tested before starting the preventative. It is NOT advisable to give heartworm preventative to a positive dog. Puppies under the age of 6 months can safely be given heartworm preventative without a heartworm test. Dogs over the age of 6 months should be tested initially and immediately started on heartworm preventative.
Fortunately, heartworm disease is a PREVENTABLE condition. It is much more costly to treat the disease than to prevent it — not to mention that treatment can often be hard on an animal. The HSLC encourages all dog owners to get their dogs tested and then get them started on heartworm preventative right away! Consult your veterinarian or bring your pet to one of our scheduled clinics for heartworm testing. We offer products to help protect your pets from heartworm, fleas and ticks! For more information, refer to our Vaccine and Microchip Clinic Services>>