With April being National Heartworm Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to learn about this harmful disease and the ways to prevent it. Many pet owners have heard of heartworm before, but still might have some lingering questions about it and what it does.
According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of the affected pet. Not only can it cause heart failure but several other conditions including lung disease and damage to organs. Talk about a nightmare for any pet owner. The good news, heartworm is easy to prevent! By taking the right steps and putting a heartworm prevention program in place, your pup will continue to be happy and healthy!
Step 1: Use a Preventative Medication
With canine heartworm disease being found in all 50 states, it is safe to say your pet could potentially be at risk! By using a prescribed form of medicine, it lessens the chances of your pet contracting heartworm disease. Preventive medication can be offered in two forms – a monthly chewable tablet, or a topical medication. Check with your veterinarian to find out what the best prevention method is for your pup. Some products not only prevent and control heartworms but roundworms and hookworms as well.
Step 2: Perform Regular Blood Testing on Dog
There are various blood tests that your veterinarian can perform to determine if your pet has heartworms. The most common identifies certain proteins found on the adult female worm. The other detects antibodies the dog’s body has developed to combat the heartworms. Performing a routine blood test will provide knowledge about your dog’s health and identify with certainty whether or not your dog has heartworms.
Step 3: Reduce Your Pet’s Exposure to Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are not only annoying but they have been known to be hosts to many different viruses and illnesses including heartworm disease. If an infected mosquito carrying infective heartworm larvae bites a dog, the heartworm larvae is transmitted onto their skin where it can enter through the mosquito bite wound. Thus, controlling mosquitoes is recommended. Look for a yard spray that kills these bugs and keeps them at bay or apply a topical solution to your pet that prevents these bugs from biting.
Mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs in shallow, standing water. Search for possible problem areas around your home to remove the standing water or grade the earth to prevent shallow water from pooling.
There you have it! In three easy steps, your pup can be strong and healthy for a long time to come. By putting a prevention program in place, it will help you and your pet find relief from ever having to deal with the effects of heartworms.