As the weather gets warmer and summer approaches, most people in Florida know what to expect … more mosquitoes! Even though this is a year round problem for us, it gets infinitely worse as the months get steamier. Everyone finds them bothersome, but did you know that they also can carry deadly parasites that can threaten the life of your pets?
Mosquitoes can carry the microscopic larva of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, which can be transmitted to pets with just one bite from these pesky insects! The larva make their way into the bloodstream, settle down in the heart and lungs, and start growing. It takes about 6 months for the larva to mature, and grow into heartworms. Heartworms are roundworms that live inside the heart and lungs of dogs, cats, and many other species of animal. They can grow to over a foot long, live for 5-7 years, and dozens can live inside the heart and lungs of your dog!
While their favorite host is dogs, heartworms can also infect cats. Even indoor cats aren’t safe: it only takes one mosquito making it inside your home! While their infection rate is lower, cats can develop a condition called heartworm-associated respiratory disease (or HARD) that can result in sudden death! Even a single worm can have fatal consequences to cats.
The signs of heartworm disease are easy to miss as they resemble symptoms for many other types of disease, which can include coughing, lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss, and and intolerance for exercise. Symptoms increase as the number of heartworms in an infected animal grows, but waiting for symptoms to develop means that irreversible damage may have already been done.
Treating heartworm disease is very difficult, expensive, and carries many risks. Heartworm positive dogs will need hospitalization for treatment, followed by strict confinement and leash walking once your dog returns home. This is then followed by another round of treatment in the hospital. As the worms die, they can get lodged in blood vessels and may cause dangerous blockages that could lead to collapse and even death.
However, this disease is very easy to PREVENT. Prevention is safe, simple, and very effective. There are many different options for heartworm preventatives which include both topical and oral, and many also protect against other internal parasites, such as hookworms or roundworms and external parasites like fleas and ticks!
Contact us today for more information at (727) 546-0005 to discuss which preventative is best suited for your pet to make sure your pet is protected year round!