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Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Dog from Heartworms

Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Dog from Heartworms

Heartworms are potentially deadly parasites that commonly affect dogs. They’re only transmitted through mosquitoes, which pick up these nasty worms during their larval stage from the bloodstream of infected animals.

Aside from dogs, mammals like cats, ferrets, coyotes, foxes, and wolves can also contract heartworms and serve as carriers. Unfortunately, though, dogs are known to be the natural hosts of heartworms.

When heartworms enter a dog’s body, they stay in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, damaging various organs and causing health problems, such as heart failure and severe lung disease.

In addition to these life-threatening medical conditions, heartworms can be incredibly difficult and costly to get rid of. So, prevention is always the best weapon. With that said, here are five ways you can protect your dog from heartworms:

 

1. Get your dog tested for heartworms annually

When it comes to heartworms, getting your canine companion tested every year is very important. Most dogs don’t show early signs of infection, so without routine testing, the parasitic worms can rapidly grow in number and cause severe damage to multiple organs. When the infection reaches that point, it will be incredibly difficult to remove the worms and save your pup.

 

2. Invest in preventative medications

One of the most effective ways to protect your dog from contracting heartworms is through preventative medications. They’re available in different brands, forms, and dosages, so make sure to consult your veterinarian before purchasing one for your dog.

Some of them provide heartworm protection for only a month, while others, like ProHeart 6, which is a heartworm preventative shot (can only be administered by a vet), work up to 6 months.

There are also preventative medications that protect against fleas and intestinal worms, on top of preventing heartworms. It really depends on which ones you prefer and work best for your dog. Some of the best ones include Sentinel Spectrum, Heartgard Plus, and Tri-Heart Plus.

 

3. Make sure to keep your home mosquito-free

Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Dog from HeartwormsMosquitoes are the only insects that can spread heartworms. Even when an infected animal comes near your pet, or eats from your dog’s food bowl, Fido won’t contract the parasitic worms.  That means no mosquitoes, no heartworms.

There are plenty of ways to get rid of the existing mosquitoes in your home and prevent them from coming back. You can start with removing, or covering, all containers in and around your home that may gather water.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, so this step is crucial in making sure none of them would stick around and multiply. Next, you can burn a few citronella candles and place them outdoors to discourage mosquitoes from lingering around the area.

Indoors, you can simply use an electrical mosquito swatter or place a few drops of citrus-scented dish soap into small saucers and position them in places where you often see mosquitoes. They typically stay in dark areas, like closets or under furniture, so you can start there. Never use mosquito repellent sprays indoors, especially when your dogs are around because they contain substances that are very toxic to animals.

Other things you can do is to always keep doors closed, make sure there are no holes in your window screens, and regularly change your pet’s water bowl.

 

4. Get your dog a pet-safe mosquito repellent

Keeping a pet-safe mosquito repellent for your dog on hand is very important, especially if you bring your dog on travels. Places with hot, humid weather are more likely to have a higher population of mosquitoes, and they may also be carrying diseases other than heartworm. If you’re not sure which bug spray to get for your pet, you can check out our top  picks here!

 

5. Avoid bringing your dog to mosquito-ridden areas

Like we mentioned earlier, mosquitoes gravitate to areas with stagnant water. So aside from homes with lots of open, water-filled containers lying around, they can also be found in, or near, stagnant bodies of water, like swamps, ponds, and lagoons.

To prevent your dog from getting bitten by mosquitoes and contracting diseases, it’s best to avoid these kinds of areas. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to go through mosquito-ridden places, then make sure that your dog wears insect repellent.

 

Has your dog ever contracted heartworms?

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