When the temperatures drop, and jacket weather approaches, the thought of pests dying off and leaving us alone for the season is pretty exciting. The transition to Fall doesn’t mean we can cease to be vigilant in protecting our furry loved ones from parasites and pests, however.
Even pets who are strictly indoor can fall victim to one of the nastiest parasites out there: the dangerous and deadly heartworm. Read on to find out more about this unpleasant varmint, and how you can prevent infection in your fur baby by providing year-round heartworm prevention for your dog or cat.
What Are Heartworms in Dogs and Cats Anyway?
Heartworms, Dirofilaria Immitis if you want to get scientific, are a parasite from the roundworm family. These worms don’t just look like the stuff of nightmares. They are a nightmare for the infected pet and the pet parent.
These little thread-like creatures infest the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of the host animal. They cause issues ranging from coughing, fatigue after exercise, loss of appetite, and eventual heart failure. These creepy critters aren’t spread directly from animal to animal. They’re passed along by the insect everyone loves to hate, the most infamous vector for disease, the mosquito.
What Do Mosquitos Have To Do With It?
Heartworms are spread by mosquitos who have taken blood from an infected animal. They pick up the larvae, then transmit them to the next dog, cat, or ferret they bite. The larvae then make their way to the heart and lungs of their new host, where they make themselves at home, and start growing and reproducing.
Since mosquitos are associated with hot temperatures, there is a misconception that Spring and Summer are the only times heartworms constitute a significant concern. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mosquitos thrive in temperatures over eighty degrees. It takes temperatures below fifty degrees for them to start dying off. The balmy Florida climate is perfect for mosquitos to do their dirty work year-round.
How Do I Prevent Heartworms?
Heartworms are not easy to treat once your pet is infected. They are easy to prevent. There are spot treatments, chewable tablets given monthly, and injections. Several of the chewable and spot preventatives have the added feature of protecting against other pests.
These preventatives are all available through your veterinarian’s office by prescription. Your vet will require an up-to-date visit and a heartworm test. A heartworm test is usually performed in the office and takes about five minutes.
Keeping Track of Preventative Medications
Heartworm preventatives work best when given at the same time every month.
Things can get hectic from day to day. Keeping close tabs on when your pet’s treatment is due will make sure your best friend stays protected. A phone alert can be a helpful tool. Is a written day planner is more your style? Make a note of the day and the time.
Going on vacation when your pet is due for their heartworm preventative? Let your Space Coast Pet Services know, and we’ll make sure your pet stays protected. Medication management is included with our services for no additional charge. Call us today!
With these tips, you and your fur baby can rest easy.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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