Heartworm prevention: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is heartworm?
A: Canine heart worms are parasitic nematodes that are transmitted by mosquitoes. They can infect the major artery that carries blood to the lung, and in the worst infections, to the right ventricle of a dog’s heart. Treatments are costly, and symptoms of the disease can be severe and even deadly. Though easy to prevent, its incidence is still at an unacceptably high level.
Q: Can any dog develop heartworm disease?
A: All dogs are susceptible. Other mammals are susceptible too, but dogs seem to have a higher incidence of the disease due to their lifestyle and exposure levels, since they tend to spend more time outside at play than some other domestic pets. Transmission can only occur through the bite of an infected mosquito, and there is no way to tell if a mosquito is infected. That’s why treatment is so important!
Q: Can I get heartworm disease from my dog?
A: No. This is a specific parasite that only affects, dogs, cats, ferrets, and other mammals. It is extremely rare to find in humans and is unable to complete its lifecycle, so we generally do not take measures to prevent the disease in humans.
Q: How can I protect my pet from heartworm disease?
A: Heartworm disease has been reported in all fifty states. The bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae is capable of transmitting heartworm disease to your pet. Therefore, it’s never too soon to think about preventing heartworm. To stop this prevalent parasite from harming your pet, we recommend giving preventative medication on a once-monthly basis. This medication is available as a chewy treat or a tablet. There are many brands on the market, so please speak with your vet regarding the most reliable and safest medication for your pet. When used year-round, these preventatives are virtually 100% effective.
In addition to prevention, it is also important to check if your pet has been exposed or is infected with heartworm. To test for heartworms, a simple in-house blood test can be performed. We recommend running it during your pet’s annual wellness visit. This test will give an answer to your pet’s status immediately and an action can be taken right away by your vet to treat your pet safely in the event that they are found to be infected. If no infection is detected, your next course of action would be to continue routine preventative treatment.
*Please come see us at our office at 482 Main Street in Mashpee, or give us a call at 508.477.3320 to learn about all the heartworm prevention options for your pet, for heart worm prevention coupons, and for PetDesk app reminders to help you remember to keep this important step in your pet’s health on your monthly schedule!*