April is Heartworm Awareness Month
Heartworm disease can be a serious and potentially deadly for dogs, cats and other mammals. The American Heartworm Society (AHS) has made April the month to recognize this preventable disease. Most pet owners wouldn’t knowingly put their pet at risk of becoming infected yet according AHS, millions of pet owners fail to protect their pets from heartworm infection every day.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is one of the major health problems in dogs in the United States and throughout the temperate and tropical areas of the world. Heartworm disease develops when a dog or cat is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larva (juvenile worms) of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. As the mosquito feeds, these microscopic larvae are deposited on your pet and quickly penetrate the skin and begin their migration into the dog or cat’s bloodstream.
Heartworm Life Cycle
First, adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilariae, into an animal’s bloodstream. Then, mosquitoes become infected with microfilariae while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.
Lack of Protection
A recent survey by the American Heartworm Society, found that over 250,000 dogs and 3095 cats tested positive for heartworm infection nationwide in 2001. Only 59 percent of dogs in the United States are on heartworm preventive. And of that 59 percent, studies indicate that one in three dog owners missed giving the monthly heartworm prevention dose by more than a month, and 20 percent of those who missed a monthly dose eventually stopped giving the heartworm preventative altogether, leaving their dog vulnerable to potential infection.
Heartworm Disease is Preventable
We recommend that pet owners take steps now to talk to your veterinarian about how to best protect your pets from this dangerous disease. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive compared to treating your dog for heartworms. You could buy 7 years worth of heartworm prevention for what it costs to treat your dog. While heartworm disease is treatable in dogs, it is a complicated process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no treatment for cats, so it is imperative that heartworm prevention measures be taken.
There are variety of options for preventing heartworm disease in both dogs and cats, including monthly tablets, chewables and injectable for dogs, and monthly topicals for cats. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm disease can be completely prevented.
Sentinel and Trifexis
These are our primary recommended products for dogs. They combines an effective flea control product with heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention for a safe, convenient and effective monthly treatment.
This is the only injectable that provides 6 months of continuous heartworm prevention for dogs in a single dose injection.
This is our recommended products for cats. It prevents fleas, heartworms, intestinal parasites and ear mites in cats. It is a topical treatment that is applied monthly.
For more information about canine and feline heartworm disease, please visit: http://www.heartwormsociety.org/