Heart To Heart: The Importance Of Heartworm Prevention
Responsible pet owners have a lot to think about when it comes to raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted pet. Proper diet, high quality wellness care, exercise, mental stimulation, obedience training, and of course the all-important snuggle time, are among the many facets of modern pet care. It’s understandable that monthly parasite prevention may be overlooked from time to time, but this can have devastating effects on our four-legged friends.
The screening and prevention of parasites, specifically heartworm, is a crucial component of your pet care arsenal and this is why we recommend year-round heartworm prevention.
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite, dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted by mosquitos. A mosquito can pick up the parasite in its microscopic stage by feeding on an infected animal, such as a dog, cat, coyote, raccoon, opossum, or wolf.
Once inside the pet’s body, the microfilaria travel through the blood stream and take up residence in the heart, lungs, and accompanying blood vessels. Over a period of several months to a year, the worms can grow up to 12 inches in length and wreak havoc on the pet’s internal organs, causing significant damage and suffering, and, if not treated, the pet will eventually die.
If caught early enough, heartworm can be treated in dogs, but treatment is expensive and painful, and often requires months of confinement. In cats, heartworm is not treatable and often results in death.
But We Don’t Have Heartworm In Colorado, Right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, we do and we’ve diagnosed several positive cases at our facility.
While we have a lower incidence of heartworm disease in Colorado, as compared to the other parts of the country, heartworm disease is found in all 50 states. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) considers Colorado a red state, meaning that local mosquitos have been found to be carriers of the heartworm parasite.
In addition to having heartworm-carrying mosquitos, tourism also abounds in our beautiful state, and with an influx of people from other states comes an influx of pets that may be infected with heartworm. Pets traveling to other areas within or out of our state are also at risk, especially, if going to a high incidence location.
The Many Benefits Of Heartworm Prevention
It wasn’t that many years ago that preventing heartworm in pets was expensive and time consuming. Nowadays, a simple monthly preventive medication is all that is required to keep your pet disease-free year round. Not only does the medication prevent heartworm, most also include medication designed to kill common intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Because roundworms and hookworms can be transmitted to people, it is yet another reason to have your pet on a heartworm preventive.
Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center Can Help
If you haven’t started your pet on a heartworm preventive medication, we are here to help. Give us a call to set up an appointment or to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about heartworm prevention.