It's spring! Hooray - green grass and colorful flowers. Warmer temps also welcome back the mosquitoes. Did you know if a mosquito bites a dog, coyote, or fox with heartworms that the blood meal contains baby heartworms? When that mosquito bites again those baby heartworms go into the new pet through that bite wound. Once there are baby heartworms are in the blood they will continue to mature for about 6 months. Full grown they can be 3 feet long and can live for 5-7 years in our dogs. There aren't typically any symptoms early on but if left untreated symptoms can include mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, weight loss and pets will fatigue easily. If the heart contains a large number of heartworms it will not be able to work properly which can be life threatening. The sooner a pet is diagnosed and treated the less damage the heart will incur.
The good news is that this is preventable! If your pet hasn't been on heartworm prevention, let's get started! Once on prevention for 6 months (long enough for any baby heartworms to get big enough to find) we will run a quick blood test and have results for you in about 10 minutes. If the test is negative your pet is heartworm free and continuing on prevention will help keep it that way. If the test is positive there are treatments we can do to kill the heartworms. Unfortunately treatment is more expensive than prevention, long term and not very comfortable for your pet.
We offer several heartworm prevention options: chewable tabs given monthly or an injection that is done once every 6 months.
If you have questions about heartworms, heartworm tests or heartworm prevention please give us a call. With heartworm prevention we can get back to focusing on the green grass and colorful flowers and worry less about the pesky mosquitoes.