Becoming a pet parent is an exciting time. However, when you begin to love your furbaby as much as the humans in your family, you discover a resolute commitment and responsibility to keeping them safe from harm. Unfortunately, there are many things that can threaten the health and wellbeing of our animals. One such threat is the parasite known as heartworms.
Heartworms, which are spread by mosquitos, reside in the lungs and heart of their host. They reproduce consistently, and the effects that they have on your pet’s body will become more severe. Blocking the flow of blood around her body and to her major organs, there can be considerable damage to her respiratory and circulatory systems. Eventually, if untreated, your pet will almost certainly die.
Posing such a significant risk to the health of your pet, heartworms can be a frightening prospect. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to keep your furbaby safe.
Choose the right preventative
Choosing the right preventative is the single most important thing that you can do to protect your pet against heartworms. There is a reason why heartworm medication must be prescribed by a licensed vet – they are not necessarily suitable for all breeds and size of pet. Many of them will also protect your pet against other parasites, including fleas, ticks and other types of worm.
Your vet is the best person to help you decide which heartworm preventative is right for your pet. They know your pet’s medical history and, assuming you have her usual preventative care logged with them, will know whether combination heartworm preventatives are appropriate or suitable. Your vet will also be able to check if you are happy with the way your chosen preventative needs to be administered. Some come in the form of chewable tablets, others as spot-on treatments. There is also one option available as an injection. It is important to make sure you are comfortable and confident in administering the preventative as otherwise, there is a risk that your pet won’t receive the full dose. This could put her at risk of catching heartworms.
Make sure you administer your chosen preventative on time – EVERY time!
Most pet owners lead very busy lives and sometimes it can become difficult to juggle our priorities. Often things like administering preventatives can be overlooked, or owners think that it ‘won’t hurt’ to ‘leave it till tomorrow’. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Preventatives are designed to be effective for the period of time stated on the box. In most instances, this is 30 days. Research has shown that one of the primary causes of pet’s who are normally given adequate prevention against heartworms developing the disease is a missed or late dose! Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you stick to the schedule as directed by the manufacturer of your chosen product.
Understand that all dogs, cats and ferrets need protection, wherever you live
Easily the biggest misconception about heartworms is that you don’t need to worry about them if you live anywhere where there are colder temperatures. Unfortunately, mosquitos have evolved to be resilient little creatures and are capable of surviving in those states where the temperature and humidity is less like their preferred environment. Cases of heartworm have been reported in every state, so there is no geographical location that can be classed as having zero risk. The best way to keep your pet safe from heartworms is to ensure that she has adequate preventative care, irrespective of where you live.
Our experienced veterinary team at Stewart Animal Clinic understand the importance of protecting your beloved pet against heartworms and would be happy to offer their advice and support. Please contact our full-service veterinary hospital in Warrior, AL at 205-351-0400 and schedule an appointment today.