The topic of pet parasite prevention is a hot one during the spring and summer, but not so much in the middle of what’s starting to feel like a very long winter. However, because of the heartworm life cycle (which includes a 6-month incubation period), pets who stop their medication are at risk year-round.
There are over 20 types of heartworm-carrying mosquitoes, and they’re all active at different times of the year. Fortunately, heartworm prevention is highly effective and is something that can be observed 365 days a year!
Stop the Cycle
An animal who tests positive for heartworm is a threat to all other animals in the vicinity. If a mosquito draws in their blood, the chance of spreading the disease to other unsuspecting victims is very high. Dogs are ideal hosts, but mosquitoes can infect cats, coyotes, foxes, and other wildlife.
You can stop the cycle of infection by ensuring your pet is on a year-round heartworm prevention schedule. If a heartworm-carrying mosquito does bite your pet, the microscopic worms will be killed off by the medication in the bloodstream.
A Closer Look
It takes about 6 months for a heartworm-positive dog to to actually test positive for heartworm. Again, this is due to the incubation period. Microscopic eggs are directly deposited into a pet’s bloodstream from a mosquito bite. After some time, the worms migrate to the lungs and heart, where they grow and reproduce. Only then will a heartworm test yield a positive result.
Heartworm tests are recommended every 12 months. Dogs can be treated effectively if the disease is caught early on, but there can be costly complications. Currently, there’s no treatment for heartworm in cats.
Headed for Trouble
In addition to putting pets at risk during the off-season, erratic or insufficient dosing of heartworm prevention medication may actually be contributing to a resistant strain of heartworm disease. It’s been confirmed this strain doesn’t react to prescription medications that are currently available on the market.
Most pet owners have no idea their pets are heartworm-positive, but as the pulmonary arteries become more clogged with worms, the following symptoms often become more obvious:
- Labored breathing
- Weight loss
The American Heartworm Society recommends a year-round preventive. This medication protects your pet from the effects of heartworm disease, as well as intestinal worms – both of which are possible to get throughout the year.
You may decide that oral pills are the way to go, but there are also topical medications. During your pet’s wellness exam, we can discuss the best possible options for disease prevention.
When my parents’ dog Kya died very suddenly a few years ago‚ their regular vet was not at work that day. But thankfully‚ Dr. Tullio was and treated my parents and their dog as if he was their doctor for the past 15 years—doing everything he could to try and revive Kya and by being so compassionate to my parents in the waiting room after having to deliver the sad news. We truly can’t say enough nice things about Dr. Tullio and can’t wait for him to open his new facility! Thank you.
—Lori Forrest & Bob Leahy
Doctor Tullio is a kind, caring gentleman who has cared for my cocker spaniels for many years now. He has always been helpful‚ honest‚ and understanding with my pets and me. He is a man I trust completely and have and do refer others to him. Any pet owner can feel safe and secure in trusting their beloved pets to his skilled hands.
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Molly and Oscar have been patients of Dr. Tullio for several years. I have been very pleased with his care‚ his expertise‚ and his understanding with my two Wheatens. Dr. Tullio has been quick to diagnose any issues and remedy all of the problems we’ve had. I look forward to many more years working with Dr. Tullio. I wish him well in his venture.
Dr. Tullio has always treated our dogs with great knowledge‚ care‚ and compassion‚ and we have grown to know him quite well. We have been so completely impressed with Dr. Tullio’s consistent excellence in care and services that we wanted to share our experience with others. We are pleased to recommend as the place to go for both quality treatment and compassionate care for your furry family members.