National Heartworm Awareness Month

April 13, 2018

It’s finally spring which means it’s warming up outside, but this springtime awakening also means those bothersome mosquitoes are showing up too. According to the EPA,

“Mosquito-borne diseases are among the world's leading causes of illness and death today. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million clinical cases each year are attributable to mosquito-borne illnesses.”

This estimate however, doesn’t even include the pet and wildlife population, which means, mosquitoes are more of a health risk than you may have previously thought. Mosquitoes pose a substantial risk to your pet’s health due to the fact that they are a vector for heartworm disease.

 

So what is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm is a potentially fatal but preventable parasitic disease that begins its life in a mosquito but eventually makes its way into the chambers of your pet’s heart.

When a mosquito bites a heartworm infected dog a small parasite called microfilariae is ingested by the mosquito. Then when that very same mosquito visits your house and bites one of your dogs the parasite is then transmitted to them after being bitten. The microfilariae grows over 6 months and develops into large worms that eventually become lodged in the chambers of the heart. While this is all happening unseen inside your pet, at the same time, other pets are at a higher risk of becoming infected too because heartworm infected pets become reservoirs for mosquitoes to transmit the disease further and faster.   

 

How do I prevent Heartworm Disease?

Well it's a simple two step process; first visit your local veterinarian and have your pets tested annually for heartworms. The second step is to give your pet, the veterinary prescribed monthly heartworm prevention, chewable, or once yearly injection. It’s that simple just two step annually should be completed prevent this horrible disease.

You may also be asking why do I have to test for Heartworms every year if my pet is on prevention? There are a few reasons why you should have your pet tested annually. One reason is that all medications have a failure rate and even though Heartworm prevention prescribed by a veterinarian is very effective its not 100% effective. Another reason is due to the fact that, as pet owners, we don’t always give that dose of prevention exactly when we should. So because of a few day missed here or a month skipped there the prevention is much less effective.   

Double your heartworm defense!  

Here at University Veterinary Care Center we offer something called Heartworm Double Defense. This describes our use of  both heartworm prevention(Sentinel) and a topical flea, tick, and mosquito repellent(Vectra 3D). By using the combination of these two products your pet’s risk for heartworm disease is dramatically decreased.  

 

 

 

SOURCES:

 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC). (2012, September 01). Joint Statement on Mosquito Control in the United States [Press release]. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/mosquitocontrol/joint-statement-mosquito-control-united-states

 

Summary of the Current Canine Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Management of

Heartworm(Dirofilaria immitis) Infection in Dogs [Editorial]. (2012). American Heartworm Association. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.heartwormsociety.org/images/pdf/Canine-Guidelines-Summary.pdf

 

 

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