Highlands Ranch Pet Sitter Discusses Heartworm Prevention

by admin on April 18, 2018

April Is National Heartworm Prevention Month!

Heartworm is found in pets in every state in the US. Heartworm typically effects dogs, but cats and even ferrets are not necessarily in the clear. Cats do have a natural immunity to heartworm, and for every 100 dogs infected, there are about 10 cats infected.
What exactly is heartworm and how do pets contract it?
Heartworm is a disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis, a parasite that is spread through the bite of a mosquito. The pet (dog, cat, or even ferrets can be infected) is the host, and the worms lives in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of the animal, therefore terming the disease “heartworm”. The parasites are not contagious, and the disease is only spread through a mosquito bite.
What are the main symptoms of heartworm?
Dogs infected with heartworm have the following symptoms:
Coughing
Trouble breathing
Fatigue
Noise in the lungs and heart
Possible death
Yikes!

So, how do pet parents prevent this horrible illness from happening to their pet?
Luckily, there are ways to prevent heartworm in pets.

The Best Treatment Is Prevention:
Keeping your pet up to date on heartworm prevention meds (such as Trifexis) will kill the heartworm larvae before it can grow into worms in the pet. Heartworm is more common in warmer climates where there are more mosquitoes, but has been reported in dogs and other pets in all 50 states. Here is a great comparison chart of heartworm prevention medications: Heartworm Prevention Comparison Chart

Keep Standing Water Out of Your Yard:
Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. This could be a small pond, marshy areas in your yard, or even your dogs’ bowls if you keep some outside and don’t frequently clean or empty them. Anywhere around your home where mosquitoes can lay eggs need to be treated or removed. The more mosquitoes there are, the higher chance of heartworm spreading. This is why it’s so important to give your pet heartworm prevention treatment. Also, when traveling to areas with your dog where there a lots of mosquitoes (Florida for example), make sure your dog is up to date on heartworm/flea prevention.

Preventing Heartworm Naturally:
There are some natural ways to prevent heartworm, which include some herbal prevention. Here is a list of ingredients for Steve Marsden DVM’s natural prevention:
Ginger
Wormwood*
Garlic
Thyme
Cinnamon
Peppermint is sometimes added as well
*Do not use wormwood in pets that are pregnant or have a health issue such as kidney disease.

Heartworm can be prevented and treated!
Although heartworm can be deadly, since there is prevention and treatment, your dog or other pets very unlikely to contract this disease. Keeping your pets up to date on heartworm/flea medication is key to prevention. Please consult with your vet if you see any signs of heartworm in your pets. Your vet will be able to test for heartworm and provide any necessary treatment to your pets.

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