April 7, 2021

Heartworm Awareness Month Arrives

Author: Jennifer Houghton
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Pet parents take all kinds of action to make sure that their pets are well cared for. From comfy beds, to interactive toys, training, and annual trips to the vet, we do most anything to keep our fuzz ball healthy and happy.

Something we may not always think about is heartworm disease. In all likelihood, you probably have your pet on a combination product that covers prevention for fleas, ticks, heart and other parasitic worms. Or do you?

Now is a great time to double check your preventive medication regimen. And while you’re scanning the medicine cabinet, here are a few things to bear in mind.

What It Is

First, it is a disease that your pet gets by coming in contact with mosquitos. Mosquitos pull the disease from the bloodstream of an infected animal and pass it on to your unsuspecting pet while romping out in the backyard (or really anywhere outdoors). And if you have ever gotten a pesky mosquito in the house….. yup, it could infect your dog indoors.

Therefore, most veterinarians will recommend that you keep your pet on year round prevention. Particularly since there isn’t a single state in the U.S. where it hasn’t been reported.

The Outcome

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), heartworm disease, while treatable, can cause permanent damage to the heart of your pet. In fact, after the heartworm has matured, they can “live in your dog’s body for seven years, constantly producing offspring. After about a year, a dog may harbor hundreds of these worms, although the average is 15. The worms cause inflammation and damage to the heart, arteries, and lungs.”

Your vet, like mine and like the AKC, probably recommends/requires that you test annually for heartworm disease. Which, seems like a pretty solid recommendation considering the damage those little parasites can do to the health and longevity of your pet. If you don’t have your pet on a heartworm preventive, we encourage you to speak to your vet to see if this is the right action for you and your pet.

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