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The Significance of Preventing Heartworms in Pets

To keep your pet healthy and free of diseases, it is crucial to not only give them regular vaccinations and wellness exams but also provide them with heartworm prevention. This is especially important since heartworm disease has been found in every U.S. state, and mosquitoes remain active even during the winter season. Therefore, it is necessary to give your pet year-round heartworm prevention medication.


The heartworm life cycle

Heartworms can infect any mammal, but they mostly prefer to live in dogs. Mosquitoes pick up heartworm larvae (L1) when they bite an infected animal. The larvae then develop into L2 stage due to the mosquito’s digestive system, and move to the salivary glands to become infective L3 larvae. Mosquitoes can transmit L3 larvae to pets through their bites. The larvae then move under the pet’s skin and molt through two stages. They eventually make their way to the pet’s heart and reach adulthood in the main pulmonary artery where they reproduce.


How heartworm prevention works

The mosquito that is inside your pet goes through several larval stages, but only two stages can be prevented from getting heartworm. When the heartworm larvae develop into juvenile or adult stages, prevention methods are no longer effective, and treatment with an expensive and strong drug containing arsenic is needed.

To make sure your pet stays healthy, give them a monthly heartworm preventive. This can be an oral chewable or topical liquid which will kill the heartworm larvae before they develop into a more harmful stage. Immature larvae can turn into adults within just 51 days, so it is crucial to use prevention every month to stop the life cycle from progressing and harming your pet. Injections that have a slow release mechanism and can kill heartworm larvae before they molt are available for administration every 6 or 12 months. However, it is important to note that preventing heartworm does not stop mosquitoes from biting your pet or prevent the transmission of heartworm larvae. Nonetheless, it is an effective measure to prevent heartworm disease from becoming life-threatening.

Please contact us to discuss the best heartworm preventive options available for your pet, in honor of National Heartworm Awareness Month. We want to ensure the safety of your four-legged friend.