National Heartworm Awareness Month

Apr 10, 2016 by

National Heartworm Awareness Month

My wife is a stickler for taking good care of our dog. I’m new to the party, but she’s cared for our collie for nearly 10 years. To her our dog is a part of the family and gets all the attention and preventative care as such. I’m sure many of you feel the exact same way. She gets a little antsy when warmer weather rolls around and after a little homework I can see why.

Long time pet owners and veterinarians know that warm weather, no matter what time of the year, can mean mosquitoes. If the weather is warm enough for mosquitoes to breed, then there’s the possibility of your pet getting heartworm from those tiny, buzzing vampires. We’ve had spring-like weather all winter even in January and February where the temperature was over 70° so it’s time to take a few precautions.

Mosquitos carry a parasite known as a filarial worm (Dirofilaria immitis) that enters into a pet after they’ve been bitten. The larvae mature and enter into the blood stream which begins to affect your pet. Over the long term heartworm is detrimental to your dog or cat’s health leading to your pet experiencing hypertension, labored breathing, anemia and even heart failure.

Initial Heartworm Symptoms to Look for in Dogs

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased activity

Initial Heartworm Symptoms to Look for in Cats

  • Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight Loss

  

We Cannot Express this Enough: Prevention is Key

If you live in Oklahoma, you must use heartworm prevention each month ALL YEAR ROUND! Skipping doses is like playing roulette with your pet’s life! It’s dangerous and just not worth it! Usually people just think of mosquitoes as a nuisance, but they are more dangerous to your pets. Protecting your dog or cat from this potentially fatal parasite is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner.

Heartworm disease has spread throughout the United States including areas that previously did not see any significant amounts of heartworm in pets like Oregon, California and Arizona. Essentially if your area has mosquitoes and you have animals, then you’re in an area that your pet can get heartworms.

It takes about seven months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms once your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. The adult heartworms lodge in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system.

Do your part as a responsible pet owner and consult with your veterinarian. If you live in the Edmond and Oklahoma City area, then give Sunset Veterinary Clinic a call today.

Find out more about Heartworm Prevention here.
  

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

  

Heartworm Disease in Cats

 

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