What is heartworm? How does your dog get heartworm? Why is your dog at risk? Why keep your dog on preventive all year round? These are some of the questions that you may be asking. Let me start to answer some of your questions.
First, heartworm is a disease caused by worms invading and reproducing in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of the heart. These worms can cause long-lasting damage to the heart and affect the animals quality of life. This is why preventing your pet from getting heartworms is the best option. Dogs are the natural host for these worms, meaning they can carry both male and female worms. This allows those worms to mature and then reproduce more worms.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. When a mosquito feeds on an affected dog it then picks up baby worms, which the mosquito carries around until the mosquito then bites another dog and leaves the larvae behind. It takes about 6 months for the larvae to grow into adult worms. This is why your pet is at risk. Due to pets traveling with their owners and the warmer weather, the number of Heartworm cases seen each year is increasing.
Prevention is key with heartworm disease. Treatment for heartworm costs more than heartworm prevention, it is hard on the animal and takes a long period of time to get your pet cleared of the heartworms. It takes 6 months for the worms to fully mature after your pet has been infected, this is why heartworm prevention medications are recommended to be taken all year round. The prevention is going to kill the infective stage and the larval stage, it will not kill the adult worms.
Finally, keeping your pet on heartworm medications for the rest of their life is going to make sure that you prevent them from getting the disease. Giving the medication on the same day every month will ensure no lapse in preventive. If you’re not sure if your pet is on a preventive or you want to get your pet on a preventative, call our office or your veterinarian. Getting your pet started on prevention is easy and worth it! There are many options for prevention. Finding one that will work for your lifestyle is what we strive to do!
Utah Veterinary Hospital
161 East 30 North
American Fork, UT 84003