Thursday, March 14, 2019

Why Year-Round Heartworm Prevention is a Must

Due to an increase in pets traveling with their owners and unpredictable weather changes, it’s highly recommended that your pet receive their heartworm preventatives year-round, and not just during the warmer months. Furthermore, heartworm disease is becoming much more prevalent throughout the U.S., and because heartworm disease can be challenging to treat (and fatal), prevention is the best way to keep your pet healthy.

What Does Heartworm Prevention Actually Do?

Believe it or not, your pet’s heartworm preventatives do not actually prevent the initial heartworm infection from happening. Also, preventatives cannot kill adult heartworms*. What preventatives CAN do is eradicate larval infections that have occurred in the past month, which prevents them from maturing into adults.

This is why heartworm preventatives need to be given monthly—the medication itself does not stay in your pet’s system for a month; it contains active ingredients that kill larvae that have been inside your pet for the last 30 days. And larvae need more than 30 days to reach their adult stage.

*Adult heartworms are the real problem. The females can grow up to 12 inches long, and as the heartworms propagate, they start blocking the arteries leading to the heart and lungs. 

How Easy is it for Pets to Become Infected?

Very easy! While mosquitoes generally go dormant when the temperature reaches freezing, they can spring back up again at the first thaw. All it takes is one bite from a female mosquito that has ingested heartworm larvae from a previous host to infect your pet.

With year-round heartworm protection and yearly heartworm testing, there is very little concern that your pet will fall victim to heartworm disease. Heartworm treatment is possible, but it is very expensive (much more expensive than a year’s worth of heartworm preventatives) and can be stressful for your pet, too.

Is Your Pet Behind on Their Heartworm Prevention?

Call our hospital or stop in to talk to our team about what you need to do next. Your pet may need to be tested for heartworm before we can prescribe preventatives, or they might just need a refill. Let us know—we’re happy to help you!