Why Preventing Heartworm is Important

To ensure the good health of your pet and protect it from diseases, in addition to scheduling regular vaccinations and wellness exams, it is important to provide year-round heartworm prevention. This is particularly crucial because mosquitoes that spread heartworm disease are present in every state of the United States and are active throughout the year, including during the winter season.


The heartworm life cycle

Although heartworms can infect any mammal, they mainly inhabit canines. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm larvae (L1), when they bite an infected creature and ingest microfilariae from their blood vessels. The mosquito’s digestive juices induce the larvae to advance to the L2 stage, then they move to the mosquito’s salivary glands and progress to infectious L3 larvae. The L3 larvae swim under the pet’s skin when a mosquito bites. Then, they mature into adult worms after going through two stages and travel towards the heart. Eventually, they reach the main pulmonary artery and reproduce.


How heartworm prevention works

The mosquito that is inside the pet goes through several larval stages. However, only two of these larval stages can be prevented from developing heartworm. Once the heartworm reaches the juvenile or adult stage, it cannot be killed through prevention. In such cases, treatment with an arsenic-containing drug becomes necessary, which is expensive and harsh.

To prevent heartworms from harming your pet, it’s important to give them a monthly preventive medication in either an oral chewable or topical liquid form. This effectively kills off any heartworm larvae before they become stronger. It’s critical to administer this monthly prevention as immature larvae can become adults in just 51 days. You can give your pet injections every 6 or 12 months that slowly release medicine to kill heartworm larvae before they grow. Remember, heartworm prevention medication does not stop mosquitoes from biting your pet, or prevent the transmission of heartworm larvae, but it does stop the development of life-threatening heartworm disease.

To commemorate National Heartworm Awareness Month, please look into heartworm prevention choices for your pet. Call our team to talk about which heartworm preventive option is most suitable for keeping your furry friend free from disease.