One way to love your pet is to make sure his heartworm prevention treatment is up to date. The best thing you can do right now is have your pet tested for heartworms. The last time we had mosquito weather was about seven months ago, which means that if an animal has been infected during that last season, she would test positively only now for heart worms.
Why Seven Months? How do Heart Worms Spread Anyway? Heart worms are introduced by mosquitoes that spread the disease from one infected pet to another. Warmer weather and standing water encourage the breeding of mosquitoes in every state of the USA. A larva takes about seven months to mature inside your pet, so you probably won’t see any symptoms right away. An infection takes about that long to detect due to the life cycle of heart worms.
In much the same way that a human can have a heart attack without typical symptoms, the same thing can happen to an animal with heart worms. Even with fully developed heart worms, your pet may not exhibit any symptoms. In extreme cases, the death of a beloved pet happens without specific symptoms.
These parasites live happily in an animal’s arteries and around his heart and lungs. Imagine the bloodstream blockage that can be caused by a 14-inch long worm in your pet’s arteries. Now think about the fact that one dog could have as many of 250 of these parasites!
Life Cycle of a Heart Worm With the prick of an infected mosquito, an untreated pet becomes victim to parasitic worms or nematodes that look like long, thin, white worms.
A mosquito becomes a carrier for heart worms when she bites an infected animal. As she draws out blood, she also draws out microfilaria or infective larvae. She’s the intermediate host that the microfilaria need and provides a place for their next maturity stage that lasts 10 to 14 days. With the mosquito’s next meal, she injects the slightly matured larvae into the next animal. The next stage of maturity will take 7 or 8 months.
Choose An Ounce of Prevention This is why now is a perfect time to test your pet, and if she’s clear, to administer preventive medicine. Treatment for heartworm disease can be both lengthy and expensive. In the best of times, prevention is better than a cure, and right now, even more so.
The medicine typically used for the treatment, Immiticide, is in such high demand nationwide that it’s backordered indefinitely. To ensure your pet is protected from heartworms, here’s a good guideline for preventive medication:
1. Proheart: Safe and effective for dogs under 7 years of age, this injection lasts for 6 months and also controls hookworm infections.
2. Trifexis: Besides preventing heartworms in your dog, this monthly tablet quickly controls fleas, making it a good choice for flea-allergic dogs. (Relief comes quickly!) Trifexis controls the majority of intestinal parasites, but it doesn’t prevent ticks.
3. Revolution: A once-a-month topical treatment for your cat, Revolution also prevents most intestinal parasites, ear mites, fleas and ticks. The treatment is usually applied to the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades.
Preventing heartworms in your pet is just one more way you love your dog or cat. Supplying you with timely information, heartfelt care, and the very best of products is what we do best – and what sets Town N Country Animal Hospital apart!