The Importance of Preventing Heartworms
It is important to ensure your pet remains healthy and free from diseases by providing regular vaccinations and wellness exams, as well as heartworm prevention. Heartworm disease has been found in all U.S. states, and because mosquitoes are active throughout the year, it is crucial to keep your pet on heartworm prevention medication year-round.
The heartworm life cycle
Although heartworms can infect any mammal, they are more likely to target dogs. The parasites are transmitted through mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it ingests heartworm larvae (L1) from the animal’s blood vessels. Then, the mosquito’s gastric juices cause the larvae to molt into L2 stage. These larvae then migrate to the mosquito’s salivary glands and molt into infectious L3 larvae. Mosquitoes can transmit L3 larvae to pets when they bite them. These larvae then migrate through the pet’s subcutaneous tissue and molt twice before eventually reaching the heart and main pulmonary artery where they mature and reproduce.
How heartworm prevention works
The mosquito larva that develops inside a pet goes through several stages, but only two stages can be prevented from developing into heartworm. If heartworm larvae reach the juvenile or adult stage, regular preventives will no longer work and they will require expensive and harsh treatment with an arsenic-containing drug.
In order to prevent heartworm disease in pets, it’s important to give them a monthly preventive medication. This can be in the form of an oral chewable or a topical liquid. By doing so, you will kill any heartworm larvae before they grow into a more dangerous adult stage. It’s important to administer the medication every month because heartworm larvae can become adult worms in as little as 51 days. Consistent monthly prevention is crucial to stop the heartworm life cycle and protect your pet. Slow-release injections that kill heartworm larvae before they mature can be given to your pet every 6 or 12 months. While this type of heartworm prevention does not stop mosquitoes from biting your pet or prevent the transmission of heartworm larvae, it does prevent the development of life-threatening heartworm disease.
To observe National Heartworm Awareness Month, please research the various heartworm prevention options available for your pet. Contact our team to learn more about the heartworm preventive that would best protect your furry friend from this disease.