Summer is officially here, which means mosquitos are out, which increases the risk of heartworm disease in our pups!
There was a time only about 10 years ago when heartworm disease was primarily limited to the south and southeast regions, but it is now found in all 50 states, in Canada, and worldwide, and is spreading to new areas each year.
This map is from 2013(Heartworm disease surveys are done every 3 years)
Due to the above reasons, it is now standard practice to keep dogs on a heartworm preventative, such as Heartguard, year-round, not just in the winter months no matter where you live!
The case for year-round preventative for your dog:
- Heartworm disease is in ALL 50 states! Which means, all dogs are at risk, no matter where they live!
- Any dog (or cat) that isn't on a preventive protocol can be infected when bitten by a mosquito carrying the parasite--which the mosquito picked up when it bit another infected animal.
- While an infected dog can't directly spread heartworm to another dog, they serve as a virtual Petri dish for spreading the disease to others near and far via mosquitos!
- Many areas are experiencing warm weather earlier in spring and later in fall than in years past, meaning mosquitoes can emerge unexpectedly (like this year here in Colorado!)
- There are warm micro-climates that support mosquitos even in cold regions
- Owners increasingly take their pets on vacation, often to areas where mosquitos are active
- The parasite takes up residence in the animal's pulmonary arteries and heart, ultimately leading to awful trouble breathing, lung disease, issues with other organs and heart failure.
- Treatment to rid dogs of heartworm (there isn't one for cats) is harsh:
- An arsenic-based drug kills the parasite;
- It costs $600 - $1,200;
- The dog must be confined in a crate for a month or more while the heartworms die off and dissolve (because exercise or excitement can prompt embolism)
Save yourself and your dog the pain and suffering (both financially for you and physically for your dog) of heartworm disease by spending $50 - $100 to put them on year-round preventive!
Before starting a preventive program, all dogs should be tested for heartworms. Giving preventives to dogs that have adult heartworm infection can be harmful or even fatal to the pet.
Adult heartworms produce millions of microscopic "baby" heartworms (called microfilaria) into the bloodstream. When you give a monthly heartworm preventive to a dog with circulating microfilaria, this can cause the sudden death of microfilaria, triggering a shock-type reaction. Even if your dog does not have this type of reaction, heartworm preventives do not kill the adult heartworms (although they may shorten the worms' life expectancy). This means an infected dog will remain infected with adult heartworms.
Articles/Websites that may be of interest: