Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Dog from Heartworms
Heartworm is a serious disease that could be potentially fatal to dogs. These disgusting worms are mainly transmitted through mosquitoes, which pick them up during their larval stage from the bloodstream of infected animals.
Other animals that can contract heartworms and serve as carriers are cats, ferrets, coyotes, foxes, and wolves. However, dogs happen to be the most commonly known hosts of heartworms.
When a dog contracts heartworms, the worms tend to plant their roots in the dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. This ultimately damages various organs and causes many different health problems, such as heart failure and severe lung disease.
Along with these life-threatening medical conditions, heartworms can be incredibly difficult and costly to get rid of. But how can you protect your dog from contracting heartworms? Below you can find the top 5 ways to do so:
1. Annual Heartworm Tests
Due to the fact that most dogs do not show early signs of infection, getting them tested for heartworms every year is crucial. The parasitic worms can rapidly grow in number and cause severe damage to multiple organs. Unfortunately, when the infection reaches that point, it is incredibly difficult to remove the worms and save your pup. Schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible if your canine companion has not been tested in the last year!
2. Preventative Medications are a must
One of the most effective ways you can protect your pup from contracting heartworm 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. Stay Mosquito-Free
The reality is that if there are no mosquitos, there are no heartworms. Mosquitos are the only insect that can spread heartworms so even if an infected animal is near your pet, or eats from their food bowl, your pup is safe and will not contract the parasitic worms.
There are a lot of ways to get rid of the existing mosquitoes in your home and keep 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 important 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 are to always keep doors closed, make sure there are no holes in your window screens, and regularly change your pet’s water bowl.
4. Use Pet-Safe Mosquito Repellent
It is important to keep a pet-safe mosquito repellent on hand, especially if you and your pup travel. Places with hot, humid weather are more likely to have higher population of mosquitoes, and they may also be carrying diseases other than heartworm. You can find bug-sprays that are safe for your pet at most local pet stores.
5. Avoid Mosquito-Ridden Areas
Like previously mentioned, mosquitoes are most commonly found where there is stagnant water. So aside from homes with tons of open, water-filled containers lying around, they can also be found in, or near, stagnant bodies of water, likes ponds, swamps, and lagoons.
Whether you are a pet-parent, a volunteer or a foster it is important to be prepared to prevent your dog from getting bitten by mosquitoes and contracting diseases. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to go through mosquito-ridden places, then make sure that your pup wears pet-safe insect repellent.
With informative information and love for pups, everyone can be at ease when caring for them!