Be prepared! Spring is just around the corner and that means nicer weather and bugs! If you're not careful your pet could be on the menu of the day. Mosquitoes will soon be here to annoy us and our pets.. Mosquitoes are not only an annoyance, but some mosquitoes carry a deadly disease for your dog, cat or ferret...heartworm. The good news is that this disease is totally preventable.
Heartworm is spread after a mosquito takes a blood meal of an animal already infected with heartworms. Dogs are usually the carrier. This includes wild dogs, coyotes, and wolves. Once the mosquito ingests the infected blood, the mosquito can infect another animal in about two weeks. The infected mosquito bites an animal and the tiny microscopic heartworm will begin it's 4 to 6 month migration through the skin to the heart and lungs. It only takes one mosquito bite by a heartworm carrying mosquito to infect your pet. If your pet is on heartworm preventive this migration is stopped because the preventive kills the heartworm in the skin before infection is established in the heart. Dogs, cats, and ferrets can become infected with heartworms. Humans are resistant to infection.
Signs of heartworm infection vary with the animal infected and the stage of infection. Dogs will become tired more easily and exhibit other sighns of heart failure like coughing. Left untreated, dogs with heartworm infection will eventually go into heart failure. Dogs can be treated by your veterinarian for heartworms. This treatmant is financially more expensive than the monthly preventive and more trying on your dog. Cats can exhibit a variety of signs if infected with heartworms. Cats may cough, have asthmatic-type breathing episodes, vomit regularly, may sezure, have no symptoms or can die suddenly. Currently there is no treatment for heartworms in cats.
Now a days, once-a-month heartworm preventive is commonly used. Brand names for monthly heartworm preventives for your dog are Heartgard Plus, Interceptor. ProHeart, and Sentinel. Heartgard for cats is available for cats. These newer heartworm preventives not only protect against heartworms, but they also keep your pet free from disease caused by intestinal worms. These monthly heartworm preventives are safe, effective and easy to administer to your pet. Younger animals can be started on heartworm preventive without a blood test. Older animals require a blood test to establish that they are not already infected with heartworm.
See the pet health expert, your veterinarian, should you have any questions or concerns about the health and well being of your pet. Modern medical advances continue to help not only people but our furry companions live a happier, healthier, longer life.
John Weale D.V.M., M.S.
Rabies Distemper Hepatitis Leptospirosis Parvovirus Coronavirus Parainfluenza Bordetella (kennel cough) Lyme Disease
Rabies Panleukopenia (Distemper) Rhinotracheitis (FVR) Calicivirus Chlamydiosis (Pneumonitis) Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Ringworm