How to Prevent Heartworms
For dog and cat owners, heartworms are a troubling threat. More than just a nuisance, these parasites can be (and often are) fatal. They are transmitted by mosquitos, yet can grow up to a foot long once they have been transferred to a host. As their name suggests, these parasites live within the heart of their host. Untreated, they will continue to grow and reproduce until the tangled mass of them becomes a fatal blockage within the dog’s or cat’s heart.
Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your beloved pet never suffers from heartworms. As with most serious conditions, the best treatment for heartworms is prevention. Outlined below are some of the most effective heartworm prevention methods.
Have Your Pet Examined for Heartworms
Your pet should be examined for heartworms periodically. For dogs, it is recommended to have them tested for heartworms annually. This testing is a relatively simple process and can be done at your dog’s routine checkup.
For cats, heartworms are much rarer, but they are also much harder to detect. There is no proven treatment for cats that contract heartworms, meaning that effective prevention methods are even more critical. It is recommended that you have your cat tested for heartworms once before you put them on preventive medication, and then tested again as your veterinarian sees fit based on your cat’s risk factors.
Give Your Pet Preventive Medications
The most effective thing you can do to ensure that your pet never contracts heartworms is to give them preventive medications. These medications are administered monthly and can come in the form of a pill, topical medication, or injection. These heartworm medications work by killing heartworm larvae as soon as they are transmitted to your pet through a mosquito bite. Though all of these medications are incredibly effective, you will want to make sure to always administer them on schedule for them to work. Heartworms must be killed in their larval stage, which can last as few as 51 days. If your pets are given their medication on time each month, heartworms will never live long enough to grow into their adult stage. Being late with the treatment, though, or skipping it a month could render preventive medications ineffective.
These medications do work extremely well when used properly and they can prevent your dog and/or cat from ever dealing with deadly heartworms.
Start Preventing Heartworms as Soon as Possible
If your dog or cat has never been screened for heartworms or if they are not currently on preventive medication, it is recommended that you take them to a veterinarian as soon as you can to have them screened and put on preventive medications. Heartworms are a terrible parasite, but they can be prevented, allowing your pet to live a long, heartworm-free life.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!