The Significance of Preventing Heartworms
To keep your pet healthy and free from disease, it’s important to ensure they receive regular vaccinations, wellness exams, and heartworm prevention. Heartworm disease has been detected in all U.S. states, and mosquitoes remain active even during the winter. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain year-round heartworm prevention for your pet.
How heartworm prevention works
The mosquito inside the pet goes through several larvae stages, but only two stages are vulnerable to heartworm prevention. After the heartworm larvae reach the juvenile or adult stage, prevention methods no longer work, and costly and harsh treatment with an arsenic-containing drug is necessary.
It’s important to give your pet a monthly heartworm preventive, whether it’s an oral chewable or topical liquid. This helps kill the heartworm larvae before they can become a more harmful life stage. This is crucial because immature larvae can become adults in as little as 51 days. A monthly preventive can stop the life cycle from progressing and protect your pet from harm. Your pet can receive injections every 6 or 12 months that slowly release medication to kill heartworm larvae before they molt. It’s important to know that heartworm prevention doesn’t stop mosquitoes from biting your pet or transmitting heartworm larvae, but it does prevent heartworm disease, which can be life-threatening.
The heartworm life cycle
Heartworms can infect any mammal, but they mostly prefer dogs as their hosts. Mosquitoes can acquire heartworm larvae (L1) when they bite an infected animal. The larvae then undergo molting to reach the L2 stage due to the mosquito’s gastric juices. Afterward, the larvae migrate to the mosquito’s salivary glands, where they undergo molting to become infective L3 larvae. The L3 larvae of the mosquito swim under the subcutaneous tissue of a pet when it feeds. As they molt through two stages, they gradually move toward the pet’s heart and eventually reach the main pulmonary artery, where they become adults and reproduce.
To observe National Heartworm Awareness Month, we recommend researching heartworm prevention methods for your pet. Please contact our team to discuss the most suitable heartworm prevention option that can safeguard your furry friend from this disease.