Warmer weather is here, which means it is again heartworm season. You have heard of heartworms before, but do you know what it means for your pet to have them? And do you know how to prevent or protect against heartworms? Being informed about the truths and myths of heartworms will help you and your pet stay healthy and heartworm-free all season long.
Heartworms Are a Seasonal Issue for You and Your Pets
Heartworms are parasitic worms that live in the heart and in its associated blood vessels. Most common in canines and felines, heartworms are spread only by the bite of a mosquito that has previously sucked up blood containing microfilaria, which live in blood. Microfilaria, or rather heartworm larvae, spread fastest in warmer temperatures, which is why heartworms are a warm-season issue and not a year-round problem.
So do not worry that you will catch heartworms from your pet once the temperature outside rises. Heartworms are only transmittable from mosquito bites as described above; heartworms are not an airborne infection.
Preventing Heartworm Parasites
Preventing heartworms altogether is the best way to deal with the disease. Whether inside or outdoors, your pet is able to contract heartworms whenever the weather begins to heat up and when blood-sucking insects begin to swarm. So keeping your pet cooped up indoors with fans and the air conditioning on will not prevent your pets from contracting heartworms. Yet, providing your home with effective methods of heartworm prevention, such as insect-proofing outdoor areas with mosquito repellant sources, will help to keep biting bugs away from you and your pet.
Pet Protection from Heartworm Parasites
If your pet does happen to get bitten by a mosquito, there are several medications, such as Heartgard and Sentinel, which help to kill off microfilaria (heartworm larvae) up to a certain point in its development. Administering these medications to your pet during mosquito season, bitten or not, will greatly help to protect your pet from developing heartworms. These medications are able to prevent larvae less than 6weeks old from developing into fully grown heartworms. But these medications will not kill off heartworms themselves once they are fully developed adults.
Contact our animal medical center today for more information about heartworms, how to prevent them and how to treat your pet’s heartworms once they are present.