What You Need To Know About Heartworm

April 20, 2015

Friendly DogsSummer means mosquitos, and mosquitos spread heartworm to dogs (and sometimes cats and ferrets). There are lots of medications designed to prevent heartworm, but there’s more you can do to keep beloved pets healthy.

What’s the risk of heartworm?

Anywhere there are mosquitoes, assume there’s heartworm. While it used to be geographically contained, it’s been reported everywhere that has mosquitoes.

One good thing is the harsh, longer winter we just had—there will likely be fewer mosquitoes (this summer, at least).

Why worry about heartworm?

Symptoms can be subtle, or nonexistent. Heartworms are a small roundworm that are transmitted from mosquitoes in their larval stages—so they don’t cause symptoms right away. It takes 6 months or more for heartworms to start to noticeably impact dogs.

Even once damage begins, symptoms may not appear. A sedentary dog won’t use their heart as much, and won’t trigger symptoms. But an active dog? Early symptoms can include coughing, and shorter-lived energy.

Without treatment, the number of heartworms will increase, until symptoms include weight loss, fainting, coughing up blood, and eventually, death from heart failure. Note, if you have a leisurely dog unlikely to trigger those early symptoms, there’s no way to know your dog’s headed to an early death.

Testing for heartworm?

Tests don’t catch heartworm until it’s out of the early stages, complicating treatment. Treatment can cost several thousand dollars.

Keep pets immune systems strong!

Especially outdoor pets. You can support your pets immune systems by encouraging them to have the same good habits that humans need: regular sleep, exercise, and healthy nutrition. Give pets an immune boost by adding a little bit of colloidal silver to their water bowls. (Bonus: this will help keep the water fresh!)

Support immune systems year round, you never know when they’ll need the extra support (especially with doggy flu!)

Do you protect your pets from heartworm?

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