Pet Health Alert: Epic Heartworm Disease Season Expected

After a mild winter and a wet spring — and a hot summer on tap — the number of potentially heartworm-spreading mosquitoes has swelled to unprecedented levels. Add to that the fact that more and more fox and coyotes — a reservoir for heartworm — are moving back into our neighborhoods and you have a recipe for heartworm disaster. 

Mosquitoes are not born with heartworm; they have to bite a dog or canine with the disease and incubate the baby larvae for two weeks and then pass it on. 

Outdoor cats are more prone to heartworm — they get it about 10% as often as dogs. To kill adult worms, vets use an arsenic-type injection that is very hard on the animal’s liver; however, if you don’t treat an animal with heartworm, it can develop potentially fatal blood clots. Even on treatment, the animal can develop blood clots from dying worms for up to six weeks after the injection.

Some people mistakenly think that if their dog has a heavy coat (like a Husky’s or a Collie’s) it can’t get heartworm.  But consider this: The seals at an aquarium are highly susceptible to heartworm, and no one has a thicker coat than a seal. They get bitten on the nose by infected mosquitoes.  

Since the twice-a-year injection for heartworm prevention was taken off the market, the best plan is to keep dogs and outdoor cats on heartworm medication year round, since the medication also protects against intestinal worms. 

For more information about heartworm prevention, please watch our tutorial video on heartworm or contact Willard Vet today!

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