Mosquitoes are more than an itchy pest for us humans. While they are an annoyance to us, they pose a substantial health risk to our furry companions in the form of heartworm disease. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease to our pets when they bite them. Heartworm disease, if left untreated, is a potentially fatal disease that can affect both dogs and cats, but is much more commonly found in our canine pets.
Heartworms are a fairly large worm that can grow almost up to 14 inches long. These worms can live in the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries of a dog. The presence of heartworms in a pulmonary artery can create a strong inflammatory response, leading to a tendency for the dog’s blood to form inappropriate clots. If there are enough adult worms present, the heart has to work twice as hard to pump blood past the worm burden to reach the rest of the body. The other side effect is that, with enough adult worms present, the amount of space left for blood in the heart is decreased, allowing less blood to reach the rest of the body.
Fortunately for pet owners, heartworm disease is 100% preventable. A once monthly oral preventative will protect a dog against infection from heartworms while mosquitoes are out and about. Here at Mt. Carmel Animal hospital, we carry a product called Interceptor. Sentinel is a once-a-month chewable tablet that protects your dog against heartworms, as well as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms (intestinal parasites they might come into contact with in the environment). Give us at Mt. Carmel Animal Hospital to discuss your dog’s heartworm prevention needs.