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Heartworm Prevention: What Pet Owners Need to Know

Heartworm Prevention: What Pet Owners Need to Know

Heartworm Prevention: What Pet Owners Need to Know

In June, the summer season truly kicks off. But before you and your furry friends head out for summer adventure, remember this: it’s also heartworm season.

Heartworm is a dangerous disease transmitted through mosquitoes that can pass to our pets at any time of year. But, it is particularly prevalent through spring and summer when mosquitoes are most active.

If you aren’t protecting your pet against heartworm yet, now is a crucial time to brush up on the steps you can take to protect your furry family members. Let’s dive in to understand this disease, its risks, and the essential measures that can make all the difference in your pet’s health and safety.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by the parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis. These worms are transmitted through mosquito bites and primarily infect dogs, cats, and ferrets (but can also live in other mammals, like wolves, coyotes, and even humans on rare occasions).

Once inside the host, these worms make their way to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and begin to reproduce. This leads to severe issues like lung disease, heart failure, and other organ damage, which is why prevention is so critical.

The Signs and Symptoms of Heartworm Disease

What makes heartworm particularly dangerous is that most symptoms don’t arise until the worms have already caused their damage. Recognizing early signs and symptoms of heartworm disease can help you detect an infection early and get your pet the critical care they need. Here are the common indicators to watch for in your pets:

  • Mild persistent cough
  • Reluctance to exercise, pets becoming noticeably less active
  • Getting tired quickly during activities they previously enjoyed
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Swollen belly (due to fluid accumulation in the abdomen)

Cats may have these additional symptoms:

  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Vomiting that isn’t clearly linked to eating
  • Difficulty walking

Because many pets do not show early signs of the disease, regular screenings and preventive measures are essential to catch or prevent heartworm disease before it causes severe health issues.

Risk Factors of Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a terrible disease that no pet owner wants to confront. By understanding the risk factors for heartworm disease, you are better equipped to take the necessary precautions to protect your pets. Here’s what you need to know to avoid heartworm when possible:

  • Environmental Exposure
    Humid and warm climates are hotspots for heartworm transmission. But, because mosquitoes can thrive in many environments, no area is completely risk-free.

  • Geographical Location
    States with high mosquito populations are particularly at risk. However, heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states in the U.S., so regardless of where you live, taking preventive measures is important.

  • Pet Lifestyle
    Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors are at a greater risk due to increased exposure to mosquitoes. That said, mosquitoes can easily enter homes so indoor pets are also at risk.

Prevention and Protection for Healthy, Heartworm-Free Pets

The risk of heartworm is high, and the consequences are severe. The good news? Heartworm disease is entirely preventable with medication and proactive care for your pet.

Preventive medications work by killing the larvae before they mature into adult heartworms. These medications require a veterinarian's prescription and are usually administered monthly, either as a chewable pill or through a topical liquid applied to the skin. This is a time to be strict about sticking to a regular schedule as missing just one dose can leave your pet unprotected.

Besides pharmaceutical preventives, simple home care habits like maintaining a clean environment free of stagnant water can discourage mosquito breeding in your area – a benefit to both you and your furry friend!

Pet wellness supplements can also be a smart step in supporting your pet’s overall health and immune system. A robust immune system makes your pet less hospitable and less desirable to parasites.

Consider Root + Spring’s Strengthen Immunity Liquid Extract to support your pet’s immune health. This formula contains natural Chinese herbs that strengthen the body, boost energy levels, and support the body’s immune systems and processes that help it fight against illness.

A Healthy Summer Starts with Prevention

Preventative care does require some extra forethought, but taking these proactive steps doesn’t just safeguard your pet's health; it protects the special bond you share, ensuring many more happy, healthy years together.

When it comes to heartworm disease, prevention is not only better than cure—it’s the only real cure we have.

So, let’s keep our pets safe and sound this summer! If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to talk to your vet about starting an immune-boosting, heartworm prevention plan that fits your pet’s needs and lifestyle.