Heartworm prevention in dogs is key to keeping them from getting the disease—or worse, dying from it. Read on to learn about heartworms, and later, ask your veterinarian in D’Iberville, MS for more information about heartworm disease in dogs and additional action to take to prevent infection.
Heartworm is a parasitic disease that, in dogs, is often contracted through a winged pest: mosquitoes. Yes, your pets can contract heartworms after getting bitten by a mosquito that’s carrying the heart blood vessel-attacking parasite, which is a worm that can grow up to a foot long. Mosquitoes are able to successfully spread the disease around once they have snacked on an infected animal. A mosquito bites, flies to another host and deposits the contaminated blood. Heartworm disease sounds terrible, and it can be if you don’t do anything to prevent it.
Preventative measures to minimize risk
Although there are heartworm treatments available, another good course of action is to take preventative measure to protect your dog from becoming infected. If you live in a rural, wet or wooded area, be even more attentive to mosquito control:
- Screen in doors and windows: Either fit your home’s doors and windows with bug blocking screens or make certain that the ones you have installed are not torn. Otherwise, mosquitoes can get in.
- Look for stagnant water: Mosquitoes are attracted to old or dirty standing water as places to live, breed and lay their eggs. Check around your property for sources of stagnant water—like clogged rain gutters, birdbaths, garden buckets and flower beds with draining issues—and remove the problem or dump the water.
- Water dishes: You may have water bowls outside for your dogs and other pets to drink from. To avoid drawing the attention of mosquitoes in the evening, pour out remaining water every night and refill with fresh water the next morning.
- Keep pets inside: Early morning and early evening are prime times for mosquito activity, and creeks, marshes and other moist areas are popular mosquito spots. The less exposure, the fewer chances of getting bit.
- Grow mosquito-repelling plants: Whether in the ground or in pots, get plants and herbs that are known to repeal mosquitoes. Such plants include rosemary, basil, citronella grass, lemon balm and lavender. Bonus: these generally smell great to humans!
- Start a heartworm prevention program: There are options available to keep your pets safe, like medications and shots. Talk to your veterinarian in D’Iberville, MS about the best heartworm prevention option to help your dog avoid infection.
Heartworm not only attacks the heart, but also everything that connects to it. What this means is that the parasite will also cause damage to a dog’s arteries and lungs, which can be fatal. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog is exhibiting any of the following signs and symptoms of heartworm disease: out-of-the-ordinary vomiting, coughing, weakness or lethargy, difficulty breathing, labored or painful movement or passing out.
Give us a call today at D’Iberville Veterinary Hospital to set up an appointment with a veterinarian in D’Iberville, MS to get your dog protected against heartworm disease.