Spring is in the air! The weather is getting warmer, the grass is getting greener, and the robins are busy searching for worms. Spring brings a few downfalls with it as well...including mosquitoes!
April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. Thankfully, heartworm disease is not very prevalent in our area, but it isn't non-existent. Heartworms are ONLY transmitted by mosquitoes. The mosquito bites an infected animal, becomes infected itself, and then transmits the infective larvae to other animals through its bite. Dogs CANNOT contract heartworms simply by being around another infected dog.
Cats can also contract heartworm disease, but it's much less common in cats because they are not a great natural host. Unfortunately, there's no real cure for cats with heartworm disease.
Heartworm preventatives are available, but as with any medication, they all carry their own risks of side effects. Talk to your doctor about which preventative is most appropriate for your pet.You can further reduce your dog's risk of developing heartworm disease by creating a yard environment that isn't appealing to mosquitoes. Here are some ways you can create a less mosquito-friendly yard:
- Eliminate any areas of standing water
- Plant marigolds, a non-toxic flower which emit a smell that deters mosquitoes
- Use citronella torches to deter mosquitoes (keep all oils out of pets' reach)
The American Heartworm Society is a wealth of great information about heartworm disease. If you're interested in learning more about the disease, symptoms, and risk factors, please visit their website here: American Heartworm Society